Women's Rights and Roles after World War I in Britain

In any country, with any change whether it is a development or the war within the nations that can always cause a huge shift in the gender roles. Sometimes these kinds of shifts in gender roles are happen for the betterment of the mankind. However, it also creates a devastating situation. In Britain, before the period of world war I the role of women’s in the society was really weak and they were traditionally meant to be a caretaker of their families.


The world war I brought many opportunities for the women’s and made them aware of what they can do in their lives. World war I disrupted the gender roles in Britain through women employment and women suffrage movement, eventually leading them to empower women to be think independently. However, they still were facing some prejudice as society was not allowing them to be more open and they weren’t getting their rights at the workplaces as well.

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War changed the perspective of how women were thinking that they only meant to be a part of the homes and they can just only do the traditional kind of work. Nevertheless, they were still weak as contrast to the men and the efforts they were doing for the society wasn’t enough as it should be.

In Britain, During the industrial revolution the women were doing a lot of hard work to get their rights at the workplace and their general lives. But in that patriarchic society the labor organizations and the trade union of Britain were stood by the men rather than the women who were actually doing the work.

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2 However, this phenomenon totally changed with the beginning of world war one, the women were getting the jobs and they were filling the jobs of their fathers, brothers and the husbands as they left their jobs to join the fighting in the military as the soldiers. The young women were more willing to do the jobs that were out of their comfort and that’s the reason they earned a huge advantage by getting the jobs that were more prone to the men. The jobs these young women workers are getting was as a messenger, ticket collectors at the railways, book stall attendants and also getting recruited in the police force.3 They got more opportunities than usual as in Britain, the Women Royal Air Force (W.R.A.F) gave them an advantage to work as a mechanics in the airplane machineries. These activities during that times put women rights forward, which helped them to make their personality strong in front of the society. By the end of 1917, there were almost 5 million women working independently.

World War I also played an essential role in many voting campaigns for women, these campaigns described the powerful role of women in society and that thing was also changing the attitudes of those women who weren’t vigorously fighting for their rights. These voting campaigns were very focused and they wanted their voices to be heard by political heads in power. The women of the whole Britain were raising their campaigns against the injustice of voting rights that were not equal as men’s voting rights. The Emmeline Pankhurst who was the founder of the women social and political campaigns said that the suffrage movement did not come into play before the World War I, although the declaration of war added fire to this campaign.4 This movement got their first win in 1918 where vote was only given to property owning women over the age of 30, which later resulted in getting their proper voting rights m same as men in 1928.

As we know that every change brings changes to the society. However, sometimes these changes don’t improve the society deeply. The beginning of the war brought many jobs for the women’s as a great incentive, although there were still some people in the society who were supporting the patriarchic nature and most importantly the business owner who were still in the favor of the men. The changes that were made by the first world war that wasn’t lasting shift in the Britain.5 Before the war, the women were earning half of the money in contrast to the men, however this ratio boomed up by 66% at the end of the war. In spite of that fact, the women wages were still less comparably to men and that’s the reason the factories owner were employing more women even though the men were back from the war.6 Women were always paid less than men even though they were doing the same type of occupation like men. After the war the females were not getting equal opportunities like promotion, one more problem that became the prone in the country gender pay gap and again men became superior in Britain. However, the end of world war I gave perspective to women, that later results in the disputation for the equal wages rights in Britain.

The war between the countries change the mindset of their natives and that ends up making an history. In women, World war I brought the will to be a best and it also forced them to bring their hidden strength forward. At the end of the world war I, women were still far away from the lives they wanted, in spite of that war set the stage for women to carve their future. The women did a lot of handwork, which exhibited by how they were independently taking part in men’s jobs and they were also risking their lives as nurses and as an ambulance driver at the front that shows the bravery of the women’s.7 World war one helped them to take some steps towards the voting rights and this war showed women’s that society was very biased towards them. This thing was changing their gender role in the society as they were more aware about their status in Britain.


  1. Pyecroft, Susan. “British Working Women and the First World War.” Historian 56, no.4 (1994) :699. https://doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1994.tb00928.x.
  2. Braybon, Gail. Women Workers in the First World War. London: Routledge, 2012. Accessed October 29, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.
  3. Hughes, Kathryn. “Deeds, Not Words.” New Statesman 134, no.4734 (2005): 38–39. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=a9h&AN=16584368&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  4. Braybon, Gail, and Summerfield, Penny. Out of the Cage: Women’s Experiences in two World Wars. London: Routledge, 2012. ProQuest E-book Central.
  5. Crew, Jennifer. ‘Women’s Wages in Britain and Australia During the First World War.’ Labour History, no. 57 (1989): 27-43. https://doi.org/10.2307/27508952.
  6. Higonnet, Margaret Randolph, Jane Jenson, Sonya Michel and Margaret C. Weitz, Behind the Lines: Gender and the two World Wars. New Haven and London: Yale university press, 1987.

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Women's Rights and Roles after World War I in Britain. (2022, May 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/women-s-rights-and-roles-after-world-war-i-in-britain-essay

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