Women in WW1

All the information you need regarding the role of women in WW1.

Women In WW1 Munitions Factory

Women in the Workplace

Traditional family structure was completely changed by the First World War.

Many married women were forced into the workplace by the death of their husbands.

Other women were drafted into industries that had been depleted by military conscription.

Over the course of the war:

  • 200,000 women took up jobs in governmental departments.
  • 500,000 took up clerical positions in private offices.
  • 250,000 worked on in agricultural positions.
  • 700,000 women took up posts in the munitions industry, which was dangerous work.
  • Many more women did hard heavy work, including ship building and furnace stoking. These types of jobs had excluded women prior to the war.

In July 1914, before the war broke out there were 3.2 million women in employment. This had risen to 5 million by January 1918.

What did World War 1 do for Women?

The war meant women had to take on a number of traditionally male roles. Their ability to do this led to a change in attitudes.

World War 1 caused the British suffrage movement to split:

  • Emmeline Pankhurst (leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union) called for a temporary ceasefire in their campaign so the country could focus fully on the war effort.
  • Syliva Pankhurst and her Women’s Suffrage Federation were more radical and wanted the struggle to continue in spite of the situation.

When the war ended in November 1918 8.4 million women were granted the right to vote.

The Eligibility of Women Act was also passed in November 1918. This meant that some women could now be elected as members of Parliament.

World War 1 was undoubtedly the final catalyst for women to be given the vote. However, women would have to wait until 1928 to be granted the vote on equal terms with British men. This was brought by the Representation of the People Act, which stated all women over the age of 21 could vote.