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Women's Freedom League

The Women's Freedom League was an organisation in the United Kingdom which campaigned for women's suffrage and sexual equality.

The group was founded in 1907 by seventy members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) including Teresa Billington-Greig, Charlotte Despard, Elizabeth How-Martyn, and Margaret Nevinson. They disagreed with Christabel Pankhurst's announcement that the WSPU's annual conference was cancelled and that future decisions would be taken by a committee which she would appoint.

The League also opposed violence, instead using non-violent forms of protest such as non-payment of taxes, refusing to complete census forms and organising demonstrations, including members chaining themselves to objects in the Houses of Parliament. It grew to over 4,000 members and published The Vote newspaper. They continued their pacifism during World War I, supporting the Women's Peace Council. On the outbreak of war, they suspended their campaigns and undertook voluntary work, but in 1916 they restarted their lobbying activities.

In the 1918 UK general election, Despard, How-Martyn and Emily Phipps stood unsuccessfully in London constituencies as independent women's rights anti-war candidates. They celebrated the achievement of suffrage and refocussed their activities on equality, including equal pay and equality of morality. The group declined in membership, but was not dissolved until 1961.

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Related topics in the Connexions Subject Index

Alternatives  –  Left History  –  Libraries & Archives  –  Social Change  – 


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