Suffragette with banner, Washington DC, 1918
The title of suffragette was given to members of the women's suffrage movement in the United Kingdom and United States, particularly in the years prior to World War I. It is a name often associated with the followers of Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women's Social and Political Union (founded in 1903).

The term tends to connote acts of defiance, protest, self-sacrifice and sometimes violence. Suffragettes carried out such minor offences as chaining themselves to railings and setting fire to the contents of mailboxes. One suffragette, Emily Davison, died after she stepped out in front of the King's horse at the Epsom Derby of 1913. Many of her fellow suffragettes were imprisoned and went on hunger strikes, during which they were restrained and forcibly fed. The so-called Cat and Mouse Act was passed by the government in an attempt to prevent suffragettes from obtaining public sympathy - it provided for releasing those whose condition got too serious, re-imprisoning them when they had recovered.

During World War I a serious shortage of men ("manpower") occurred, and women were required to take on many of the traditional male roles. This lead to a new view of what a woman was capable of doing. Political movement towards women's suffrage began during the war and in 1919 Parliament passed an act granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who were householders; the wives of householders; occupiers of property with an annual rent of 5; or graduates of British universities. United Kingdom women finally got the vote on the same terms as men in 1928.

See also