The Effect of the First World War on Women's Rights

Powerful Essays
The Effect of the First World War on Women's Rights

By 1918, when the war had ended, there had been a change of attitude

towards women and the right to vote. The Representation of the People

Act gave the vote to some women and before the war all attempts by the

women's movement to get the vote passed through Parliament had failed.

Therefore, the work done by women in the war (1914-1918) proved to be

very important in bringing about the change of attitudes towards women

and allowing some to vote. The work done by women in the war was a

short-term reason. Attitudes towards women and giving them the vote

had been changing for a long time before this. There had been

improvements in career and education opportunities for women and their

rights in the family. This indicated a change in attitude and

improvement in their status. The women's movement, the Suffragists and

Suffragettes, was also successful in keeping the issue in the public

eye, but had failed to get the vote. Thus there were many reasons why

attitudes were changing but work of women in the First World War was

probably the main one.

When war broke out in 1914, the Suffragists and Suffragettes stopped

their campaigning to concentrate on helping towards the war effort.

They 'filled in the gap' left by the men who went out to fight. The

women took over jobs that the men did before and it was this, which

changed men's view towards female suffrage. There had been a

'revolution in jobs' because women started to do jobs only men had

done before. Women had not been considered capable before and at first

it was strange for women to be having a totally different role. There

was a bi...

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...front, and they deserved to have the right to vote and a say in

the running of the. It showed they were just as important as men in

society. Women would have probably gained the vote eventually but it

would have taken longer. This was the main reason for the attitude

change towards women and their right to vote in 1918, but there were

other long-term reasons that gradually brought about this change

before 1914. There had been improvements to women's status and role in

society, and they were beginning to not be looked on as something more

than second-class citizens. There were improvements in the 19th

century to women's career opportunities, education and matrimonial

rights. Also, the work of the Suffragists and Suffragettes kept the

issue in the public eye and raised awareness. This helped women to get

the vote sooner.
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