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"The Impact of World War 1 on women's role in British society was only temporary - Do you agree?"

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Introduction

"The Impact of World War 1 on women's role in British society was only temporary. Do you agree?" WW1 played a vital role in the change of attitudes towards women throughout the world, not just in Britain. In Britain should women have been more dubious of this sudden change, or should they have expected it to be long term? The majority of women were optimistic however there were a small number who remained pessimistic. The aim of this assignment is to discover which ones were right, the optimists or the pessimists. Before the war women usually only held domestic roles, for example maids and servants. This is because it was tradition in Britain - men did the hard work, and women tended to look after the higher classes. Women were thought of as not being strong enough to carry out the type of work men did. Only few women worked as it was, many of them, particularly married women, stayed at home and looked after their husbands and children. There as ever some exceptions, such as Barbara Bodichon who campaigned from an early age for equality and more rights for women. She established an undenominational school, in the 1850's campaigned for women's legal rights, and later moved on to campaign for the franchise. ...read more.

Middle

With there being few men at home in Britain, women set up organisations on the Home Front to control situations there. The 'Women's Police Service' was established in 1914 to control the behaviour of young girls. The government was reluctant, as they had always opposed female police officers, however due to the high numbers of men joining the British Army, they had little choice in the matter. The 'WPS' worked closely with 'Women's Patrols' and together they replaced the police force during the war effort. During the war British women made a unanimous decision to stop campaigning for the vote and focus on supporting the war effort instead. They did however still try and be part of British politics. They worked together with women form other countries as part of the 'Women's Peace Party'. These women discussed ways to prevent any future wars from occurring. However the British government was as ever not prepared to let their women participate in such an activity. They thus refused to permit over 180 of British women to travel to the meeting being held in Amsterdam. This action highlights that during World War One although some aspects of British women's lives did change, they still were unable to have anything to do with politics. ...read more.

Conclusion

However in 1918 and even now women were given much more respect from men - so much so that they were given jobs as government clerks. As well as the long term changes there were also short-term changes made to women's role. There was a still a stigma concerning women's place in society. Although the government allowed women to work for them, they were still excluded from many professions, including teaching - in the 1920's there was a campaign against the employment of female teachers - and medicine - although during the war female students were accepted in the 1920's they were dismissed on the grounds of modesty. This exclusion meant that women as pre-WW1 were now either usually found in the domestic service or at home looking after their families. The First World War undoubtedly had an impact on women's role in British society and significantly changed their roles. This does not mean to say that this change was to last, nor either was it only temporary. Most of the immediate changes made were temporary, however they marked the beginning of change. They provided the first vital steps towards long term change, for example, the 1928 Reform Act which gave all women over twenty-one the vote. Without the commitment and determination of the women of WW1, who could say what women's roles in British society would be today? ...read more.

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