Explore a new resource that looks at the campaigning techniques of the suffragists and suffragettes.
The suffragists failed to achieve votes for women by peaceful methods. Many women began to advocate a more militant approach. These groups became known as the suffragettes. Their motto was 'Deeds not Words'.
In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. The WSPU adopted militant tactics. They chained themselves to railings, disrupted public meetings and damaged public property. In 1913, Emily Davison was killed throwing herself under the King's horse at the Derby.
Suffragettes were arrested and imprisoned, but continued their protest in prison by hunger strike. Although initially they were fed by force, in 1913 the Prisoners Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act was passed in Parliament. Commonly known as the Cat and Mouse Act, this allowed prison authorities to release hunger-striking women prisoners when they became too weak, and re-arrest them when they had recovered. Emmeline Pankhurst was jailed and released on 11 occasions.
When the First World War broke out in 1914 the suffragettes and suffragists stopped their campaign in support of the government's war effort. In 1918 - after the war - women were given limited voting rights.