How Women’s Lives Were Affected By World War 1

How useful and reliable are these sources in explaining how womens lives were affected by World War 1? This essay is going to be about World Ward 1, which started in 1914 and ended in 1918, and how it affected the livs of women. The war made an impact on lives of many women, some in a positive way and some in a negative. Before WW1 women had very little policital power and were considered inferior to men. Men didn’t see the need for women to have a voice, and that their opinion was not needed. However, when the war began men were sent to war, leaving job spaces to be filled.
This was when the women were called upon to fill these spaces. This was an oppurtunity for women to prove their rights for politicial power. Source A1 supports this because it states ‘by the end of the war in November 1918, women proved that they were just as important to th war effort as men’. This shows that women were successful in doing so and had been given more political power. This source was taken from a website focused at GCSE students which means alot of research must have been put into the text, making it reliable. Before the war women were only allowed to do certain jobs.
Housemaiding and seamstressing were most common, sometimes farming was also allowed. People say men and women lived in two different worlds. But the war was a turning point for many women. Most stopped work in the domestic service and began work in the industry. Women practically took on the livs of men. Some worked in munition factories, some did farming and some also began army work. Many women’s lives turned around dramatically, they became rch and lived a high lifestyle. Source A7 is a poem called ‘Munition Wages’ which was written in 1917. It says ‘Earning high wages? yus, five quid a week.

A woman, too, mind you, I calls it dim sweet’ which shows that women were getting more money than they were before and were becoming happier. ‘With money to spend, years back I wore tatters, now silk stockings, my friend! ‘ this shows that womens lives were affected hugely from before the war to during the war. This source could be reliable as it is a primary source, however the reliability of this source is questionable as it is only one person’s opinion, and it does not give much information about the author. With most women gaining more money each week, they began to become more independant.
They no longer had to rely on their husbands to keep them going. Many women would say the war was a good thing. Some would even say it was worthwhile, because they experienced a high lifestyle and got some of the political power they deserved. However there were many women who didn’t have such a positive experience. Some were forced to work long hours with short pay. Long shifts like this were a daily routine for most women. They weren’t allowed a break and would sometimes become so ill from working non-stop they would drop to the floor in pain, even then they had to pull through and continue work.
Source A8 supports this as it because it states ‘They were frequently expected to work on till 8pm and were paid only bare time rates for this overtime’. This shows that women were paid normal rates which were extremely low, for sometimes nearly double the hours they should have been doing. With all this work, women must have been exhausted. This source may be reliable as it was taken out of a history book, however the reliability of this source could be questionable as it was written by a campaigner for women’s rights, which means it could be biased.
And it was alrso written in 1932, which was after the war, so the stories could have been exaggerated or altered over time. During the war, posters and leaflets were given out showing the women ‘doing their part’ for the war. However many jobs that were advertised for women were rarely given out. Source A9 supports this as it says ‘female dentists, barbers, and architects- all of which were featured on war saving postcards were extremely rare. Most male dominated proffessions remained closed to women’. This shows that the propaganda that was being used was false advertisement, and was being used to encourage women into work.
The press would exaggerate things greatly to make them look better than they actually were. This source may be reliable as it was used for a series for bbc, which is a well respected channel which alot of research is put into. However, it may not be reliable as we don’t have any information about what the series was about. At the end of the war women were expected to give up their jobs in place for the men who had come back from the army. ‘Within months of the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of women were out of work’ Source A10 shows that women were left jobless. Many were forced back into domestic work again.
Some women stayed on the dole but were soon forced back into work when the government reduced unemployment benefit rates. This source may be reliable as it was written in a history book for GCSE students, so research would have been put into it. However it may not be reliable as it may have been exaggerated greatly, as the writer was not in the war. After examining all the sources thoroughly, it is fair to say womens lives did change dramatically. Lifestyle changes, changes in confidence and independance, political power and the view of women altogether were the biggest changes.

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