Women’s right were at worse point in the years before 1870, where if the women owned property before marriage, the property would automatically be in the hands of the husband legally after marriage. There had been issues regarding this matter, a famous case was Caroline Norton case. She was married and had 3 sons, although her marriage was not steadfast. She was a best selling novelist but her husband used to beat her and due to that she had to leave her home and live with her relatives as refuge away from her husband.
Her husband had full rights on the kids and he took them and left Caroline for good and took her possessions. She was not allowed to see her children as they belonged to her husband lawfully and in addition all her possessions. For 30 years, she led a life of vigorous campaigns and challenged politicians to change the laws that trapped women in marriages. She wrote pamphlets, articles and letters exposing the problems to politicians. In 1839, the first breakthrough was the Custody of Infants Act, it gave mothers legal custody of children under 7 years of age and rights to access older children.
If the women decided to separate with her husband, the property would still remain in the rights of the husband. Women’s suffrage developed very much after 1870 as on August 1870 the government had passed the Married Women’s Property Act which enabled the women to keep their own property and money even within marriage. It was a very important change to the woman’s equality. If the woman wanted a paid job, it would be most likely to be a servant. There was the same number of men servants as then women servants.
In the 1750s, men thought they could earn more money and freedom by working in occupations such as to be a factory worker. By 1861, most of the servants in domestic services were women. To be a servant was very hard, as they would have to work long hours and also had dirty jobs. The women had low paid jobs because they couldn’t do further education because universities would not allow women to join. This made women furious about the disparity and women such as Mary Maclean and Sophia Jex Blake had campaigned for improvements. One of the successful campaigns was for better education.
Girls were taught by a home tutor but only affordable for middle and the upper class people. The law changed that schooling became compulsory in 1870 for boys and girls under 10 years old. Women’s suffrage started to develop through the following years. New working opportunities for women were arising as nearly one third of the teachers were women. Women now also had the opportunity to become trained nurses; this was all due to the new hospitals being built and the progress and work of Florence Nightingale (Nurse in the Crimean War).
There were many types of new jobs the women could take up. The typewriters were introduced in the 1870s where they needed some people to write up bank accounts, writing letters, acting as secretaries. Before the typewriters were invented, men were completing these jobs. Once the typewriter was invented, the men workers were replaced by low paid women. In 1857, the Matrimonial Causes Act was set up for a simple and cheaper system of getting divorce. Cases regarding divorces were sent to a special court and not the parliament.
Husbands could get prosecuted for cruelty, desertion and adultery, however women had to prove two out of three and men could divorce by only proving one which made the case in favour of men. The Matrimonial Causes Act made women that were divorced to be considered as widows meaning that if they owned any property it would be legally be theirs after the divorce and not the husbands. Men won the vote in 1867 because of the Reform Act which increased the number of men who could vote. This entitled working class men.
Women also campaigned with men for their suffrage but were not included in the Second Reform Act. Women wanted the vote so that then they could vote for a MP that would listen to their views and had to be in equal political scrutiny with the men. Women wanted the vote to reform the equality rights between them and the men. The men were portrayed as being strong and the pride of the house being the only one that earns to run the house. The women wanted to work too, and to get the right to work equally they would need the right to vote.