Introduction need for shells increased, women were soon


The impact of the First World War changed women’s role in
society. It created numerous job vacancies, effected women politically but also
had negative effects.

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In 1914, women were often at home, cooking, cleaning and
looking after the children. Some women were working in factories making
textiles, however after 1915 and the need for shells increased, women were soon
to be found working less in the home and more out such as in munition
factories. The munition factories were a dangerous place and many women lost
their lives. ‘Among female casualties we must also include the 300 or so
‘munitionettes’, who died from TNT poisoning or explosions’. P781 Reference. Other jobs that arose for women police
jobs, their duties were to monitor women’s behaviours around factories and
carrying out inspections insuring women were not taking anything into the
munitions factories which could cause an explosion. IWM
Ref. There was an urgency for women workers during this time as men were
out fighting, in some factories there was still a resistance of hiring a woman
to do a man’s job. Women transport workers had also risen and became a popular
job role. Positions that became available to women were bus conductresses,
ticket collectors, carriage cleaners and bus drivers. The number of women whom
worked on the railways also rose from 9000 to 50,000 during the war. IWM However, for the women working in these jobs roles
and working the same as men, the pay was low. So in 1918, the women who worked
on transport went on strike for equal pay. This was the first equal pay strike
to happen in the UK, the women won.

The First World War saw not only male soldiers but women
soldiers too. Women wanted to help in the war and began to push for their own
uniformed service. Males took the role of fighting the war whilst the women
took a more administrative role. Some 17,000 WAACs (Women’s Auxiliary Army
Corps) served as typists, drivers, telephonists, clerks, cooks, and so on, this
meant that more men were free for combat duty. P781

The First World War also had an impact on women
politically. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) suspended
campaigning for women’s suffrage during the war. This recognised the need to
support the war effort, but also that such support could ultimately benefit the
campaign. This tactic appeared to pay off. In February 1918, the representation
of the People Act gave the vote to all men over 21 years of age and to women
over 30. IWM


–       Sex
disqualification act of 1919


–       Respected
in the aspect of they were buried with full military honours

–       Earned
medals which earnt them respect

–       Women
enthusiastic about the war

–       Suffrage
societies wanted to serve in the war > organised a march

Family life

Negative impacts

–       Women
died in the munitions factories

–       Women
in the work place proved difficult > they earned less than men >
government eventually paid the same rates

–       Around
400 women died due to over exposure to TNT

–       When
men returned home from the war, women were sacked as men needed their jobs back

–       Any
changes that had been made were only for the duration of the war

Legacy of women?

Impact on children:

Not only did the First World War impact women, it impacted
children too, many children found themselves wanting to get involved. It was
very common amongst young boys to lie about their age so they could enlist in
the army, for those that were too young to join they would be encouraged to
join the boy scouts.


–       Fundraise
for wounded soldiers etc


During the First World War, birth rate had declined. Partly
in response to this decline, but more generally because the saving of infant
lives seemed necessary to replace the carnage of the battlefields. Page 777.  Babies
and young children were often tended to more. There was a huge improvement on
child nutrition and midwives and doctors were given better training.

Many youths found what was happening an exciting challenge.
They signed up to boy scouts  and girl
guides and fundraising. The youth movement threw themselves into the fray with
enthusiasm. Page 777 Some children would offer
up their pocket money or raise money for charities to help the wounded ex
service men, injured animals and military hospitals. Children would help
salvage materials that could be recycled or used for the war. IWM

As mentioned in more detail later on in the essay, young
women were being encouraged to join the girl guides to escape from the negative
impact the war was having on young female factory workers. As Britain
experienced a food shortage, it encouraged people to grow their own fruit and
vegetables to help cope, this is something the girl guides played their part
in. The girls would package up clothes that would be sent over to the soldiers.
They would also provide assistance at military hospitals in the UK if needed.

The boy scouts would help patrol and guard railways and other
locations that would be important to the military, they would look at and inform
soldiers if there was to be any threat of a attack.


Family life

–       Over
500,000 children lost their fathers in WW1

–       Help
at home more



Education was often disrupted as children would have to
leave school to go and work in factories. A child’s wage would be helpful
towards the families income. The number of children attending secondary school
fell during the first year of the war, before rising again. P778 Universities also felt the disruption as the
number of graduates dropped.

Negative impacts

However, it was not all positive impacts. There was a wave
of adolescent crime, this was due to a weak family structure. As fathers would
be sent away, sons were deprived of a male role model. Not only did it affect
the males but young women too. The young women who were able to work in the
munitions factories earned a decent wage, though the money was not spent well
in some cases. They were commonly seen smoking cigarettes, spending their money
on entertainments , acting boisterously, and using ‘risqué’ language. P778 The older generation women wanted to reserve the
traditional concepts of young women but were unable to do so, fashion changed,
it was becoming common for the young women to wear mini skirts and wear makeup.

It was the young men who were the main victims of the war.
It remains a startling fact that, of males aged between 19 and 22 when the war
broke out, over one in three did not live to see the Armistice, and that war
related mortality was greatest at the age of 20. P779


The First World War impacted women especially as it changed
the attitudes towards women, they were respected more. Women were given the
opportunity to work the same jobs as men, they were given the chance to strike
and speak of what they believe in. It also impacted women as it gave them to
chance to vote, if over the age of 30. Women were soon to be seen as equals to
men. Although, the women that did seem to benefit from this was the older