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What Impact did the War Have on the Role of Women in British Society - How similar were the young women who joined the FANY, VAD and WAAC?

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G.C.S.E. Coursework: Britain and the First World War Assignment A: What Impact did the War Have on the Role of Women in British Society. 1. How similar were the young women who joined the FANY, VAD and WAAC? The young women who joined the FANY, VAD and WAAC all came from different social classes and had different backgrounds and experiences of life before joining these organisations during the war. The FANY was a small organisation of nurses with the aim of being prepared to ride out on to the battle fields to give first aid. The work was unpaid and therefore founded by only volunteered for by rich upper class young women. The VAD was begun in 1909 with the aim of training voluntary nurses who would be available if there was an invasion of Britain and was also unpaid to start with therefore was joined by upper and middle class women similar to the FANYs. The women who joined this, however, would have had a less romantic view of aiding the war than the FANYs and would have been prepared to be nurses, orderlies and drivers. A wage of �20 -�30 a year was also introduced in 1916 once the VADs agreed to cook, do clerical work and storekeeping in addition to nursing. For this reason the middle and upper class women who joined the VAD were different to the FANYs as they were more work minded than the upper class women who simply wanted some adventure to play their part in helping the men fight the war. The difference between the women in these two organisations and the women who joined the WAAC is that those in the WAAC could have been from any of the three social classes. This is because the aim of this organisation was for the women to take over non-combatant roles freeing the soldiers to fight and it was therefore organised in a similar manner to the army meaning there were a variety of different jobs with different importance, status and pay available. ...read more.


Public opinion was also against them as most thought women incapable of voting sensibly. When war broke out in 1914, however, the suffragettes stopped their campaign in order to help the war effort. Both the NUWSS and the WSPU devoted their time to work in aid of the men at war and the country. By 1916 more than one million women were doing war work, changing public opinion as many now respected these hardworking women and no longer saw the violent aspect of their previous campaigns. Due to the war, a problem with the voting system arose for the government. The method of using lists of voters was no longer appropriate or possible as millions of men were away fighting and for this reason had not lived at the same address for one year and were therefore not on the list. One in five would not be on the list and therefore in 1916 the government had to make plans for a new list to be made. The suffragettes took this opportunity to demand that women should be included. Due to the way in which women had proved themselves doing jobs during the war, many people were now in favour of voting rights for women. Thus in 1918 Parliament changed the voting laws, giving the vote to all men over 21 and to women over 30 who were householders or wives of householders, in the Representation of the People Act. Also after the war in 1918 women gained the right to stand as an MP in parliament. This change also had a lasting impact as ten years after the war ended, in 1928 an act that reduced the voting age for women to 21 and abolished the law that these women must be householders or married to them, was introduced. Therefore the war can be seen to have had an enormous effect on women's role in political society as for the first time women had the same political rights as men. ...read more.


Accidents were also a common occurrence. Thus it can be seen that although for upper and middle class women, who had not worked before, these jobs gave them a more active life improving their strength and health, this did not extend to all the classes as the work which some working class women was in fact harmful to them. Therefore, although changes in health were large, they were not widespread and therefore did not have that large and impact on women. In conclusion, it can be seen that the largest and most important change took place in politics with the gaining of the right to vote and stand as MPs for women. This resulted in women having a say in the running of the country for the first time making them more important and more able to make the changes they wanted. This meant that although many of the large economical changes such as new work opportunities and better wages that took place during the war reverted back to the situation they were in before the war once it had ended, the women now had the power to influence these things for themselves later on. In addition, although some of the economical changes did not break through sufficiently to last after the war had ended, some of the prejudice against women had been broken down which did have a lasting effect because the freedom and confidence women earned by working during the war made it possible for them to stand up for themselves and make social changes in their lives which would have such a massive impact that made it impossible for women, although men were still superior, to go back to their previous status of being controlled totally by men. On the whole therefore, although not all the changes which took place enormously altered the role of women in society, the First World War did change women's lives significantly and set the ball in motion in order for changes to be made in the future. ...read more.

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