Assess the Impact of WW1 on British women during the period 1914 - 1921'

Essay by maxludoHigh School, 12th gradeA-, March 2005

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The Great War had significant and enduring influence on the lives of all British women. The huge scale of the war resulted in the enormous participation of almost six million men and subsequently an extensive demand for female labour in the manufacturing and services industries. The war resulted in massive social upheaval particularly on the lives women who attained greater freedom despite tighter Government controls. Women's lives were upturned as they were thrust into the labour, social and economic spotlight, something never previously seen in British history. In particular the allies' defeat of Germany relied heavily on the input of women. Women were used extensively in Propaganda schemes run by the Government as a means to encourage men to join the army. Although the end of the war saw most women return to their traditional roles, the contribution of the female population on such an enormous scale would never be forgotten, women had proven their responsibility and capability to function within the 'male' workforce.

These trends saw the beginning of the feminist revolutionary movement that sought to bring about justice and equality for all women.

The Great War demanded extensive participation by women in the labour market to release men to the fighting front. In 1914, feminist Carrie Chapman Catt warned that "war falls on the women most heavily, and more so now than ever before." Jobs were being lost more quickly than they were being replaced however which resulted in an extensive gap in employment and, as a means to encourage women to join the labour force, the Defense of the Realm Act (DORA) offered women equal rights and pay. Women were keen to be involved in the war effort and showed as much nationalistic behavior as men, something that surprised the British Government. This demand for labour was...