Women During World War Two

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Do you agree with the view that ‘the war changed very little for women’? Before the First World War, women did not have the vote because they were not seen as contributors towards shaping the country, economically or politically. This is because they were confined, practically, to their homes, as all they could do is cook, clean and look after the children. This is when groups like the Suffragists and the Suffragettes formed. Their aim was to gain the vote. However, propaganda against them made women look useless, even more so. Therefore, not much was changing for them. During World War One, as more and more went off the fight in the western front, their availability to work in the factories and offices decreased dramatically. In addition, women did not have much to do at home, as their men were not there. As a result, they were the only option to work in the factories to produce army supplies. This was a massive turn towards achieving a better position in society for women, because they got a chance to prove that they can do more than just domestic work. Women worked from 8 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening, sometimes even until 8, painting planes with dope varnish, and filling shells with gunpowder and TNT. In return, they got illnesses and diseases, and not to mention, a bare minimum pay for their efforts. This goes to show that Britain would have not carried on the war “without women” as it says in Source 8, because supplies would have decreased drastically, and men fighting would have not been properly equipped to fight. In addition, it obviously presses upon the fact that women were key to success in the war, hence making them just as valuable as men, if not even more so. For that reason, war changed a lot for women because they proved to be of equal importance to men by their efforts during the war to help the men fighting. Having said that, source 8 is a passage from Prime Minister Asquith in 1917. Therefore, it is probable to say that he had a political agenda to get across with his speech, and this means that he could be saying positive things for women in order to gain support, to maintain his position of power. Nonetheless, this does not make the source useless because the Prime Minister would have recognised women’s contribution in the war; therefore, he may have meant what he said. As mentioned before, women were paid for their work in factories.

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