Assess The Impact Of Ww1 On British Women During The Period 1914 1921'

1352 words - 5 pages

The Great War had significant and enduring influence on the lives of all British women. The huge scale of the war resulted in the enormous participation of almost six million men and subsequently an extensive demand for female labour in the manufacturing and services industries. The war resulted in massive social upheaval particularly on the lives women who attained greater freedom despite tighter Government controls. Women's lives were upturned as they were thrust into the labour, social and economic spotlight, something never previously seen in British history. In particular the allies' defeat of Germany relied heavily on the input of women. Women were used extensively in Propaganda schemes run by the Government as a means to encourage men to join the army. Although the end of the war saw most women return to their traditional roles, the contribution of the female population on such an enormous scale would never be forgotten, women had proven their responsibility and capability to function within the 'male' workforce. These trends saw the beginning of the feminist revolutionary movement that sought to bring about justice and equality for all women.The Great War demanded extensive participation by women in the labour market to release men to the fighting front. In 1914, feminist Carrie Chapman Catt warned that "war falls on the women most heavily, and more so now than ever before." Jobs were being lost more quickly than they were being replaced however which resulted in an extensive gap in employment and, as a means to encourage women to join the labour force, the Defense of the Realm Act (DORA) offered women equal rights and pay. Women were keen to be involved in the war effort and showed as much nationalistic behavior as men, something that surprised the British Government. This demand for labour was exacerbated in 1916 due to the introduction of conscription which not only demanded women to fill the places in the workforce left by men but also to boost production of war time resources and services, particularly munitions. For women who had been previously involved in domestic service, the higher wages and better conditions associated with munitions work became a further incentive to become involved in the war effort. In December 1917, the London Gazette surveyed 440, 000 women, 68% of whom had changed jobs since the war began in 1914 . Furthermore, by November 1918, 7 million female workers were employed in war work. This rate of employment and job movement was very rare before the war began and illustrates the enormous change that women faced during the war period. Women's traditional domestic role was all but pushed aside in the rush to assist the allies in the war effort. In 1914 there were 175, 000 women employed involved in munitions production - by July 1918 this had grown to over 750,000. The Great War had extreme and enduring influence on women and began a revolution that illustrated their ability and responsibility in the wider...

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