Votes and Wages pamphlet


This ‘Votes and Wages’ pamphlet was produced by the NUWSS (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) in 1912, at a time when the organisation was strengthening its ties with working-class women in order to make women’s suffrage a popular cause. It claims that the average weekly wage paid to a working-class woman is so low that it is ‘exceedingly difficult for her to keep alive’.

The pamphlet highlights the complexities faced by working women. Excluded from many types of work, women were forced to find unskilled, low-paid jobs. This increased the supply of labour in these low-skilled jobs, which pushed wages down further. The limited range of jobs open to women was further restricted, as male workers in lower paid jobs wanted higher wages and argued that the only way to achieve this was to exclude women – who they saw as unfair competition. This phenomenon is illustrated on the front of the pamphlet by the depiction of a poor woman factory worker, who is thinking, ‘They have a cheek! I’ve never been asked!’

Suffragists argued that working women had no say in the legislative processes that determined their employment opportunities, pay and working conditions. The only way to change this would be to give them the vote.

The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS)

The NUWSS was the largest organisation campaigning for women’s suffrage. By 1914 it had over 50,000 members.

Led by Millicent Fawcett, the NUWSS used parliamentary procedure to try to achieve its aims, lobbying MPs through petitions, public meetings and letters, while influencing public opinion via local branch activities. Propaganda, often in the form of pamphlets, played an important role in this.


Full title:
“Votes and Wages.” How women's suffrage will improve the economic position of women. (Third edition.).
1912, London
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
Pamphlet / Illustration / Image
Agnes Maude Royden
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