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  • Women were active participants in the events which brought about so many important changes in French society from the very beginning .
  • They hoped that their involvement would pressurise the revolutionary government to introduce measures to improve their lives .
  • Most women of the third estate had to work for a living . They worked as seamstresses or laundresses , sold flowers , fruits and vegetables at the market, or were employed as domestic servants in the houses of prosperous people.
  • Most women did not have access to education or job training . Only daughters of nobles or wealthier members of the third estate could study at a convent .
  • Working women had to care for their families, that is, cook , fetch water , queue up for bread and look after the children .
  • Their wages were lower than those of men .

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  • To discuss and voice their interests, women started their political clubs and newspapers .
  • About sixty women’s clubs came up in different French cities.
  • The Society of Revolutionary and Republican Women was the most famous of them.
  • Their main political demand was equal political rights for women as men .
  • They were disappointed that the Constitution of 1791 reduced them to passive citizens .
  • They demanded the right to vote , to be elected to the Assembly and to hold political office .
  • They felt only then their interests would be represented in the new government .
  • In the early years, the revolutionary government did introduce laws that helped improve the lives of women like
    • With the creation of state schools , schooling was made compulsory for all girls .
    • Their fathers could no longer force them into marriage against their will .
    • Marriage was made into a contract entered into freely and registered under civil law.
    • Divorce was made legal , and could be applied for by both women and men .
    • Women could now train for jobs , could become artists or run small businesses.

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  • However, women’s struggle for equal political rights continued.
  • But during the Reign of Terror , the new government issued laws ordering the closure of women’s clubs and banning their political activities .
  • Many prominent women were arrested and a number of them were executed .
  • Women’s movements for voting rights and equal wages continued through the next two hundred years in many countries of the world .
  • The fight for the vote was carried out through an international suffrage movement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • The example of the political activities of French women during the revolutionary years was kept alive as an inspiring memory .
  • Finally in 1946   women in France won the right to vote .

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) - Teachoo.png


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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.