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War and the transformation of British society c1903–28

Key Topic 1: The Liberals, votes for women and social reform

The activities of the women’s societies and the reaction of the authorities.
Children’s welfare measures, old age pensions.
Labour Exchanges 1909, the National Insurance Act 1911.

Key Topic 2: The part played by the British on the Western Front

The BEF and 1914.
Britain’s contribution to the Western Front 1915–17.
The end of the war.

Key Topic 3: The home front and social change

DORA, censorship and propaganda.
Recruitment and rationing.
The part played by women.

Key Topic 4: Economic and social change 1918–28

The changing role of women 1918–28.
Industrial unrest 1918–27.
The General Strike of 1926.

Women during the First World War

The Changing role of women

Before the war women had been campaigning for the vote. These suffragettes used often-violent tactics to draw attention to their cause. They smashed windows, chained themselves to railings and set fire to empty buildings. One, Emily Davis, killed herself at the Derby by throwing herself at the racehorses. Once the war began the campaign stopped. During the war the number of working women grew by 1 million. Many of these jobs had been thought of as men only occupations. Over 120,000 women trained to be nurses and from 1917 women were allowed to join the army and serve in non-combat roles.

• Women had very few rights before the First World War.
• The government encouraged women to convince men to volunteer.
• Women had to take over traditional men jobs in factories, mines and farms when all the able-bodied men were conscripted into the army.
• Many women also helped directly in the war effort by helping in the armed forces.
• Many women served as nurses with the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) on the Front lines helping wounded soldiers.
• Many women also worked on army office jobs through the Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs).
• The war encouraged women to broaden their horizons and led to women getting the vote in 1918.
• When the war ended though many women lost their jobs as men returned home from the army but they now had proven they could work as well as any man.

Links:

FirstWorldWar.com - article about the way that the Suffrage movement responded to the war effort.

 

 

 

   

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