Assembly 1 Lucy Fazzari
Slide 1: Life for women in the 1800s
At the start of the 19th Century women’s lives could be quite dismal. Women could not go to university or train for a career. Only a minority of (wealthy) women went to school or were educated by a governess. Working class women were not educated and worked in low paid jobs, often for their whole lives. Women were expected to get married and have children. They could not be independent. Women who had not married or had children were shunned by others. When a woman got married, by law all her possessions were now her husband’s. If a crime was committed against her, only her husband could prosecute the offender. Women had to swear in their marriage vows to obey their husband’s wishes. A wife could not leave her husband to get away- she would be arrested and brought back. Wives were simply property, not people.

Many of the people we know about from this time, for example Jane Austen, were from wealthy families and had more advantages than most. Jane Austen, for example, went to school and was educated at home. However her career as a writer was still strongly discouraged because she was a woman.

Slowly things started to change. In 1857, women could divorce husbands who were cruel to them or husbands who had left them. In 1870, women were allowed to keep money they had earned. In 1891, women could not be forced to live with husbands unless they wished to.

Throughout this time women had to obey the law and pay taxes, as men did, but they did not have the right to vote.

Slide 2: The Suffragists
The suffragists were people campaigning for “suffrage” which means the right to vote in political elections. They wrote letters and lobbied MPs. They wanted to get an MP on their side so that the issue would be discussed in parliament. Sometimes the issue was discussed but it was not taken seriously. MPs said that the suffragist movement was only a small proportion of women and that it...

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