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"The First World War led to great change in the role of women in Britain."

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Introduction

"The First World War led to great change in the role of women in Britain." I agree to this view, as I think that the First World War did indeed change the lives of women in Britain. Women showed that they were capable of doing the same jobs as men, and they could be responsible with money. During the War, women got a taste of what they hadn't been allowed. They could do the jobs that were thought to be "men's jobs". Women hadn't been able to do them as they were thought to be mentally incapable and physically weak. They could only do these jobs because the men had to go off to fight and there were spare jobs that needed to be filled. So when women got these jobs, they saw that not only could they do these jobs, they could do them better than most men. And the people realised that they had won the War in France because the women had helped produce more shells, tanks, ammunition, guns and planes. Women had also shown themselves capable of fighting in the War itself, as services like the WRNS (Women's Royal Navy Services) that introduced women to the life of war, and women could do it. They had endured hardships while fighting on the Front or while working in factories or mines, where there were risks of explosions. ...read more.

Middle

Both suffragettes and suffragists wanted public attention on themselves so the whole world would know who they were and what they were trying to achieve. They realised that if everyone knew that they were suffering, people would pity them and pressure the Government into giving women the vote. At the beginning of the century, most women did not have paid work. According to a government census 8 years ago, 5 million adult women had a paid job, while 11 million women didn't. Tradition still bound women, and they became housewives after marriage. They had a job, and that was to look after the husbands and their families. They had to accept this, because they lived in a male-dominated world. Working class women did jobs like servants and cooks, which was called going into service. But as soon as they were married, they had to give up their jobs, as this was considered respectable. Women had no choice in this matter, and couldn't argue with their husband's decision. If women didn't work as servants, they worked in factories, especially in the Midlands and the North of England. Here, both married and unmarried women worked. Women also did jobs from home, like hat making, where they made the hats at home, and sold them later. For middle-class women, there wasn't much change from then till now. ...read more.

Conclusion

When men returned from the War, they wanted their jobs back, but women were unwilling to give up these jobs as they symbolised the freedom they had got during the years of the war. Many women also lost their jobs, as there was no need to produce huge amounts of ammo or thousands of tanks or guns. But even then, there were still huge numbers of women that replaced men in the workplace. The estimate is that almost 575000 women have replaced men over the course of the War. When the Representation of the People Act came out earlier this year, many women felt that their life's work was almost done. The new law came out only because of the War. According to the Representation of the People Act, heroes of the War could vote. This meant that women should be able to vote as they had shown themselves capable in the battlefield. Women had even been serving in the WRNS since 1916. So women should have the vote, but most MPs thought that the women that had done most of the war work had radical ideas and were unwilling to enfranchise them. As you can see, the Great War had a major effect on the women's movement. Without it, equal rights for women would have come, but more slowly. The War did indeed lead to great change in the role of women in our daily lives. Jay Kulkarni 10D History Mr. Rodgers ...read more.

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