History KS3: How the Votes for Women campaign began

The early 20th century was a time of huge social and political change in Britain, Europe, and the wider world.

As a new middle class emerged, women recognised that they could play a bigger part in society - and believed they could only make a lasting difference if they were also allowed to vote in elections.

Sally Lindsay finds out more about life in Victorian and Edwardian Britain in order to understand what motivated the great leaders of the ‘votes for women’ movement - including Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Fawcett and Lydia Becker - to campaign for change and secure female suffrage on equal terms to men.

Teacher Notes

Students could be presented with a collage of images showing direct action by the Suffragettes and the police/government response to this.

On post-it notes/strips of paper, students could write key words/phrases to describe the images.

When watching the video students could answer the following questions: what prompted Emmeline Pankhurst to become a supporter of women’s suffrage? How did her work as a registrar influence her ideas about women? What led to the creation of the WSPU and the decision to be militant?

Students could then carry out further research into the NUWSS and the WSPU to create posters about each group.

Or they could be given different characters e.g. Lydia Becker, Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Fawcett, David Lloyd George, Annie Kenney, policeman etc. and create a conversation between them about their feelings/attitudes towards women’s suffrage.

At the end of the lesson students could be asked to consider what the women of 100 years ago would think about the role and position of women in today’s society.

What would they be proud of? What would they still be fighting for today?

Curriculum Notes

Suitable for teaching History at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd Level in Scotland.