Thursday, 7 August 2014

World War 1 and Women


Family life and structure was completely changed by the First World War, many married women found themselves forced to work by the death of their husbands. Women were also drafted to work in industries because the men were off fighting in the war. In fact around 200,000 women took up jobs in governmental departments for the first time and something like 500,000 found themselves working in clerical postilions in private offices and then there were all the women who too working in agricultural type jobs but most women found themselves working in munitions factories which was of course dangerous work. In fact many more women did hard heavy work work the type of work that no woman would be seen doing prior to the war.

In some way the war gave so many women more independence for the first time in their lives. Also the fact that the women could do the jobs thought of as male only jobs and do the job well lead to change in attitudes about what women could do and could not do.

After the war ended over 8 million women were granted the right to vote and in November 1918 the Eligibility of Women Act was passed which meant women could now be elected as members of parliament. So there is no doubt that World War 1 was the catalyst for women to be given the vote, although it took another 10 years for women to be granted the vote on equal terms with British men.

Of course the were all the women who took a more active role in the war by becoming cooks, stretcher bearers, motor car drivers and interpreters, however governments did not allow this but it didn't stop them doing those jobs anyway. A number of women's organisations did become very active during the war, including the Australian Women's National League, The Australian Red Cross and the Country Women's Association just to name a few.

Nursing was almost the only area of female contribution that involved the women being at the front and experiencing the war. In Britain the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and the Voluntary Aid Detachment were all started before the war. The Voluntary Aid Detachment were not allowed in the front line until 1915.

ore than 12,000 women enlisted in the United States Navy and Marine Corps during the First World War around 400 of which died during the war.
There was close to 3,000 women in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during the war and it was during the war that the role of Canadian women in the military first extended beyond nursing. Women were trained in small arms, first aid and vehicle maintenance. Only 43 women in the Canadian military died during the war.

However, things were different if you were a Russian woman as there were a few Women's Battalions during 1917, these women fought well but failed to provide the propaganda value and were disbanded at the end of the year.

This woman can't imagine being on the front line of war and feel that these women must have been very brave.










10 comments:

  1. I agree, the women were very strong and brave.

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    1. They showed the men what they could do

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  2. Excellent post! Those Russian women, I'd wager, got the same respect from the higher-ups as the prisoner battalions did. The Russian battle strategy has always been, "Stuff more soldiers in there."

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    1. I am pleased you liked the post it is something I am interested in and didn't about those Russian women till I researched this post

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  3. Well done. Not enough has been said about women war heroes. They were all heroes in my book.

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    1. Thank you I am pleased you liked the post

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  4. I think the second World War was more of a catalyst for changing the lives of American women than the first World War. America entered the Great War somewhat late, and a great deal of American energy--male and female--went into the flu pandemic. What do you mean by it took another ten years for Australian women to be granted the vote on equal terms with British men? Did a woman's vote not count the same as a man's? Thank you for all this excellent and interesting information.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Here in Australian women could vote from the late 1800's but it was different from state to state from what I could find out it was in the 1920's that women could vote in federal elections, I think I will have to do a bit more research on this and yes I thought it was WW11 that really changed things for women

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  5. This is extremely well done, very interesting and I myself am very interested in both world wars and certainly the role of women in both. I read and study the topic frequently. xo

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    1. Thank you I am really interested in these things and will be doing more of these types of post

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