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    An Overview of the Role of Women in the WW1

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    World War I was known to be “The war to end all wars,” and also labeled as “The Great War.” It began in 1914, and was fueled by militarism and nationalism throughout Europe. Tensions increased within countries due to strained alliances, and competition to usurp land from colonies. Was setting the scene for a great conflict that would change the course of history.

    A change that would not only be defined by boundary lines. Between countries, but also marked the beginning of the shattering of boundaries set upon women in society. Experts did not anticipate the war to take as long as it did. False hope, promoting the glory of heroism, political propaganda, and the development of new technologies, caused millions of young men to enter the war.

    With a large amount of the population consumed with the war effort, women all across the world, especially from Great Britain, stepped-up and provided necessary help that stabilized European countries. Although women’s contributions to the war efforts in Great Britain were not highly recognized by the general public at the end of World War 1, they did achieve their purpose, as this experience allowed women to take-on opportunities that were socially unheard for that time period.

    Through their hard work and dedication, women were able to keep up with the demands of the war, and carry on critical tasks during war time to help stabilize the economy. The women’s war effort, socially, resulted in a substantial increase of women taking part in the workforce as well as organizations, hoping that their actions would give them a platform to show society they were equal to their male counterparts.

    As soon as WW1 began, more than a million women were called upon ‘to fill the gap’ left by millions of fighting men. From nurses to police patrols, for the first time, women were given an opportunity to work in ‘male-dominant’ fields (Adie). In addition, women who didn’t work also positively impacted the war efforts.

    They joined and created women-oriented organizations such as the ‘National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’ and the “Women’s Social and Political Union’ to collectively fundraise and campaign, not just for the war effort, but women’s rights as well (Wilde). They believed that by taking these opportunities, they can demonstrate to the world that women are capable of more than just facilitating the household, a role commonly given to them at that time, and thus should be given the same rights as men.

    However, there were met with huge social pressure from men and women alike, who tried their best to confine women into traditional gender roles (Albrink). Yet these women carried forward, still determined to make their mark on World War 1. Some were even brave enough to go fight alongside men on the battlefield.

    In fact, a few British women went to fight on with Serbian and Russian forces throughout the war, and one rank actually fought in battle and effective capturing enemy soldiers (Wilde). From doing laundry and taking care of the household, to arming machine guns while fighting in battle, there is no doubt that women took the opportunities given to them and positively impacted the war effort.

    Women stepping up and taking-on traditionally defined ‘men roles’ such as having a job, they were able to greatly impact the economy of Europe. Women worked in many different places, especially factories. To keep up with demands of the war fronts, they often worked in 12- hour shifts.

    The workers in a factory in Quedgeley, majority of whom were women, would go on to produce over 17 million shells in the four years of war (Adie). Not only did this effective and productive work go on in factories across Britain, but in different industries as well. Employment for women in a variety of jobs skyrocketed, with a 1,751 % increase in civil service, 544% increase in transport (drivers), and a 376% increase in metal ammunitions (Adie). With greater employment, more goods were produced.

    By joining these absolutely necessary jobs, the war-driven economy was stabilized, thus preventing further damage that could have been caused by World War I. With all the benefits of the women’s war effort, many people believe they were not recognized for their significant impact on the war, and instead were forced back into their traditional role of managing the household. This was true. When the surviving men came back from the war in 1918, the majority of these men took the jobs of women, turning back the clock.

    However, those temporary opportunities given to women truly made them gain skills and independence, while learning important lessons which they used to campaign later to achieve the right to vote after the age of 30. Opportunities for women, as well as gender equality is a hot-topic in society today.

    Looking back at World War I, with women taking-on opportunities in organizations and in places of work, as well as their efforts in stabilizing the economy, there is no doubt that women even from the early 1900’s have been showing society that they are no less than men. When we, as humans, look back at World War I we think about the bravery of soldiers, but we often forget about unspoken heroes, such as women in the war, that have made ever lasting contributions to society as well.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    An Overview of the Role of Women in the WW1. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/an-overview-of-the-role-of-women-in-the-ww1/

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