"World War One liberates women"

Essay by ibscrewedHigh School, 11th gradeA, June 2008

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World War One was a dreadful conflict that lasted four years (1914- 1918) and involved all major powers at the time. It was the first total war ever which means it affected all sections of the society, not only the soldiers fighting on the front. People of the belligerent countries felt the impact of the war through labor deficiency, food shortages and rations, government propaganda, censorship… Women played a vital role in keeping the war going. They convinced their husbands, sons, relatives to go to war; they worked instead of men, who went to the front; among other things they produced ammunition which directly affected the war effort.

Before World War One, women were regarded as less important than men. Their role was to give birth and to do the housework. This was especially expected of married women. Women weren't considered to be qualified enough for many professions. They were mostly unemployed and the society didn't approve of them doing 'men's jobs' such as engineering, mining, manufacturing… The majority of women in Britain were 'housewives, scullery maids (working class) or the more privileged 'lady of leisure'' (Women in World War 1, PowerPoint Commentary Notes).

Some did work in factories, however, but this wasn't a significant number. 'Education… was not available to working class women' (Women in World War 1, PowerPoint Commentary Notes). British women rarely studied at a university, except for a few wealthier ones. As far as their role in politics goes, women were unimportant. They weren't officially represented. All members of the Parliament and the government were men. Women didn't have the right to vote, as they were seen as not responsible enough to make decisions. Some women demanded same rights as men. This led to the creation of the first feminist movements that fought for...