• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Women During the Second World War.

Extracts from this document...


Women During the Second World War 1. Describe the ways in which women's work in the home contributed to the war effort 'You women at home are winning the war as much as your menfolk in the services,' reads Source D from the 1941 Ministry of Food. The theme of the importance of women on the home and 'Kitchen Front' is continued by the 1970s school text book in Source K, "It was the ordinary housewife who was in fact decisive...if she had once revolted the whole system would have become unworkable." 'Food is a weapon of war,' states the Ministry of Food. As the German U-boat campaign strengthened, not only valuable military equipment, ammunition and fuel were lost, but food imports were jeopardised and rationing was necessitated. Britain had to become more dependent on its own resources and it became clear that women at home had, 'The job of using...foods to the greatest advantage.' The Ministry of food advertisement, Source E, shows how women were encouraged to help in the making of, 'A second front - the Kitchen Front - against Hitler.' Here, they are encouraged to increase their use of home-grown vegetables, to try new things and experiment on cooking recipes and hints from Kitchen Front Wireless Talks (and the like), to save and re-use all bread crusts and crumbs, not to accept unfair ration hand-outs, not to buy over-priced scarce food and to serve larger portions of vegetables than usual. Although it was one of the most important, food was not the only area in which women's work in the home contributed to the war effort. The ordinary housewife is said by Source K to have been able to lose, 'The war in any week. ...read more.


Why have women's roles been seen as less important? Quite simply, there's the fairly straightforward, yet short-sighted notion that the men were in the battle, bravely doing the fighting that the women physically, mentally, morally and ethically couldn't do, many of them getting killed for the noble cause of their king and country. It was them, from this view point, that actually progressed the course of the war, whereas the women, in comparison, did far less significant tasks, such preparing food and making the ammunition, weapons and vehicles that the men bravely used in battle. However, the actual truth about why women's roles were often seen as less important than men's may be a little more complicated There are, for a start, the basic facts. Many men were actually the ones in frequently life-threatening situations. Even though women did face some danger and did some specific military work in the WAAF and the WRNS or bravely performed tasks as air raid wardens or members of the fire brigade throughout the Blitz, they couldn't really compete, in terms of glamour, importance and patriotism, with the roles of even less-skilled, less-patriotic and less-brave male soldiers. Source E, advertising, 'Medals for Housewives,' implies this by encouraging British housewives to create the Kitchen Front. It is likely that the Ministry of Food published this piece of propaganda to encourage the idea that women were as important as fighting men in the war and to therefore inspire them to work harder. Although this does not, in itself, suggest an attitude, it is highly possible that the source came about because of an attitude of male superiority. If women had already been under the impression that they were making a second front against the opposition, then this source probably wouldn't have been written. ...read more.


The Equal Pay Act was not introduced until 1970. Women teachers and civil servants were awarded equal pay in 1955, after campaigning, and in response to a growing amount of children. However, the strongest point that suggests that the war did lead to permanent changes to the role of women in British society, is the awareness that the war seemed to create. Although Suffragists and Suffragettes had already been campaigning for over 75 years, the realisation of the imbalance in society created by the Second World War worked on a far larger scale. The effects were nation-wide because almost all women's lives had changed in some way because of the war. It is also fair to say that from the end of the war, there was a rise in women's rights and opportunities until today's society of more-or-less equality. Women teachers and civil servants won equal pay in the 50s, the invention of the contraceptive pill in the 60s solved problems of unwanted pregnancy. Renewed optimism followed and Women's Liberation came into being. A series of laws were made, or changed, finally ending with the Equal Pay act in 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975 and a woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1979. More labour-saving machines were invented, education for girls was improved and the Equal Opportunities Commission was established. The Second World War, itself, did not bring any of these changes, however, it was an important factor in the realisation what women should have been able do in post-war society. It is possible that without World War Two, women's equality would have developed more slowly on a much smaller scale. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    In what ways were the lives of people at home affected by the Second ...

    3 star(s)

    In two months, 1000 tons of aluminium was given. Children were very good at collecting rubbish because they were keen and energetic. They were also easily conned, because they would believe anything. A source that illustrates this is source C5, an eyewitness account from someone talking about collecting salvage as a child.

  2. In the wars, Robert Rose is a very significant character.

    to run around the block twenty-six times; no one fully supported him except his father. Robert failed and fainted on the 25th lap but his father was there to support him. Tom came up every evening after work and sat in Robert's darkened room and talked to him and told him stories.

  1. How Did the Blitz Affect Everyday Life in Britain?

    Their teachers would go with them. Children under five would be allowed to travel with their mothers. On average, schools evacuated 2,000 a day. Organisation was very good. Trains took over one million evacuees from London. Each child had an expected load.

  2. History - World War One

    This was cause for hope and optimistic virtues when it resulted in a change of circumstances during the war. Sergeant-Major Richard Tobin of the Hood Battalion from the Royal Naval Division said: "When we were out of the line we used to stand by the road and watch the fresh, strong, plump and new American battalions swing by.

  1. History Coursework - World War One Sources Question

    England as propaganda for the general public, the losses portrayed, are probably fairly realistic, while the rate of fire, although already shown as strong, is almost certainly underestimated, or underplayed. In areas around the Belgium town of Ypres (Ieper in Flemish)

  2. What is meant by the term 'The Blitz'.

    in Britain, for those in both major cities and in the countryside. Those living in cities were under heavy bombing causing poor living conditions and some disease with many children being uprooted from their homes and being evacuated. This was traumatic for many and turned lives around, sometimes for the better.

  1. "What effect did the 1914-18 War have upon the role and status of women?"

    Emily Pankhurst, the leader of their group became friends with an MP who was later to become the prime minister, this stood them in good stead at that time as they now had a contact in the houses of parliament and in the future when he became prime minister he

  2. Why did the British Government decide to evacuate children from Britain's major cities at ...

    move', denying the opposition the chance to kill civilians or British morale. Children were to be evacuated because they would be the 'future of the country', and could be evacuated in an "orderly exodus", with whole classes being extracted from cities with their teacher as a 'group leader'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work