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How did world war one change the role and status of women in England and Wales?

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Introduction

History Coursework How did world war one change the role and status of women in England and Wales? During the nineteenth century, before war broke out new job opportunities began to emerge for women as teachers, shop workers, clerks and secretaries in offices. Even girls from working class backgrounds were able to achieve higher status than that of their parents and began to receive better pay packets. Women from middleclass backgrounds were gaining better education opportunities and a few won the chance to go into higher education eventually becoming doctors to name but one thing. However education wasn't improving for the majority of women in lower classes often receiving no education. This left them no options but to go into domestic service or the "sweated industries" such as cotton factories or home dress making. Also between 1839 and 1886 there were a series of laws passed giving married women greater legal rights, however they couldn't yet vote in general elections. Some people thought that all women should be allowed to vote too as the number of men who could vote was gradually increasing. Others disagreed, yet the debate was not as simple as a case of men versus women. Early campaigners for the vote were known as suffragists. ...read more.

Middle

However women didn't take this lying down. As the above source shows they held a huge procession on the 17th of July letting the employers and trade unionists know that they were prepared to work. Within the procession there was a large banner reading "Men of the Empire are Fighting - The Women of the Empire are Working". This source proves that women are not just good at cooking and cleaning, but determined to contribute. Nevertheless without the women's contribution to the war effort, especially in munitions factories Britain would not have won the war. The above sources tell us of women's working lives during the war. These posters show an idealistic view of mothers preparing packages for their beloved. These posters were far from the reality; there wasn't enough food to go around without sending packages to the battles. Even joining food queues did not determine even a small amount of food. This must have been so disheartening. "Pears' Soap" was advertised in "The Illustrated London news". An upper class newspaper that could not have been supportive of the ways in which everyone had begun cutting back. "Only the Best is good enough" due to the war any soap would have done, the company could not have understood the ways that all classes were suffering. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many travelled more than they would have done and began to enjoy jobs that before would have been considered 'men's ' jobs. Employers soon began to realise that assembly jobs for things such as gramophones were much better suited to women they had more nimble hands and enjoyed the work a lot more than men would have. The most dramatic change however was women's political status. Mps soon realised that giving women the vote would say thank you for their contribution to the war. The war speeded up women gaining the vote as pre war there were two main groups who spent time handing out leaflets and making stands in political meetings, trying to persuade the government to give women the vote. Finally the government gave in giving all women the right to vote in 1918. As far as women's role and status changed the war could not have helped more. The war allowed women to show their potential in a working environment, at the beginning it could have gone either way but employers gave them a chance and it all worked out for the best as when the men returned they went back to their jobs but women had realised what they were good at and new jobs were now available to them. Overall The Great War brought about the most substantial change in women's roles. ...read more.

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