By 1914 it was clear women would eventually get the vote. Years of peaceful protest had convinced an increasing number of MPs to support female suffrage. Other countries including Australia had extended voting rights to women, making Britain look behind the times.
However, World War One had a huge impact on the ongoing struggle. Many suffragettes gave up campaigning to support the war effort. When peace returned, Britain felt like a very different place.
Rethinking British democracy
Millions of British men fought in World War One, but a third of them had no right to vote. Women, who had proved they could do the same jobs as men in factories, offices and on the land, also had no representation. David Lloyd George's coalition government knew it was time for a fundamental rethink of who had access to the ballot box. MPs from different parties who supported female suffrage could now band together to support such a decision.
Women win a partial victory
In 1918 the Representation of the People Act extended the vote to all men over 21, and to some groups of women over 30. However, this was not simply a reward for the vast sacrifice that women had made for the war effort. Some historians have suggested the government intended these women to be a 'moderating' influence on radical younger male voters. It had the added advantage of taking the heat out of the female suffrage movement.
Yet more than half of women still did not have a say in electing their government. Moderate campaigning would continue until 1928 when women were finally granted the vote on equal terms to men.