WOMEN DURING WWI - smccmodernhistory

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WOMEN DURING
WWI
WOMEN DURING WWI

As the war went on, acute labour shortages developed. Women
filled this need.

Many women became independent for the first time, earning
more than before (but less than men). However, at war’s end,
an attempt was made to return to the pre-war situation.
WOMEN DURING WWI

Similarities between GBR & GER
- Women gained more freedom (shorter hair, shorter
skirts, smoking in public, going out unchaperoned).
- Since 10% of males were killed, many found it difficult to
marry or remarry.
- At war’s end: GBR women over 30 & all women in GER
gained right to vote.
- Women became involved
with politics.
- Women contributed to
war effort (working,
nursing, volunteer work).
WOMEN DURING WWI

Differences between GBR & GER
- Levels of hardship varied greatly: rationing in GBR -vstarvation & fuel shortages in GER.
- Mobilisation rate higher in GER.
- Level of independence varied.
WOMEN DURING WWI
WAR WORK: BRITAIN
 Some objection from men & unions.

Women had 3 kinds of jobs:
 those normally done by men (eg. clerks, farming,
policing)
 War-related industries (60% of munitions workers)
 Members of the army auxiliary.

Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) founded 1917. They
worked in supply, transport, communications. No active duty
but had ranks & uniform.
WOMEN DURING WWI
WAR WORK: GERMANY
 By 1916, worked in many ‘male’ occupations (eg. clerks, train
guards, tram drivers, light industry, railway builders & miners).

Dr Gertrude Baumer, head of largest women’s rights
organisation, was asked to organise women for war work, which
was done better than other nations:
 1/3 of Krupp workers female
 Sunday no longer a day of rest
 10-hour days
 Support for war declined after
1916.
WOMEN DURING WWI
VOLUNTEER WORK: BRITAIN
 Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) to give help to sick & wounded.
Unpaid at first, then £20 a yr. Mostly middle/upper class who
faced opposition from professional nurses.

Volunteers to work on the land were
not enough, so the Women’s Land
Army was formed under govt control.
VOLUNTEER WORK: GERMANY
(no info available)
WOMEN DURING WWI
POLITICAL ACTIVITY: BRITAIN
 Most suffragettes supported the war & organised to help by
running hospitals, etc.

Minority opposed the war, attempted to attend peace
conferences & established organisations.

Women’s Peace Crusade (formed July 1916) organised huge
anti-war demonstrations, gained some middle class support
but actions met with hostility.
WOMEN DURING WWI
POLITICAL ACTIVITY: GERMANY
 Initially most supported the war.

Rosa Luxemburg, socialist writer & politician was imprisoned.

Even though govt action -v- strikers was savage, women took
part.
WOMEN DURING WWI
SOCIAL CHANGES: BRITAIN
 Some reduction in class barriers as number of domestic
servants  & women from middle/working classes mixed
through war & volunteer work.

Women from all classes worked; many for 1st time, proved
competent, conflict between men & women, paid less.
WOMEN DURING WWI
SOCIAL CHANGES: BRITAIN
 Employment led to independence.

Suffrage for women in 1918.

Marriage patterns altered: divorces  (300%), man shortage.

More relaxed fashion (skirts, hair) & behaviour (public
smoking).
WOMEN DURING WWI
SOCIAL CHANGES: GERMANY
 Class barriers reduced due to defeat & forced reforms: all
women equal in legal/political terms.

Women in towns faced food, clothing & fuel shortages.

By 1920, 11 million women in work. However, most jobs
menial, paid less.
WOMEN DURING WWI
SOCIAL CHANGES: GERMANY
 Universal suffrage in 1919.

Divorce rate  due to relaxation of divorce laws, war
marriages &  in church attendance.

Social behaviour similar to GBR + single girls out
unchaperoned.
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