Equality For Women

The changes for women after the war

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Changes In Politics

In the 20th century Britain was governed by men and largely for men, ww1 played an important role in chnaging attitudes but only a minority of men started to see wmen in a new light and many women also did not support changes--->WI saw dramatic increase in membership in the years after the wars.

However, in politics women had made ground, in 1918 women of the age of 30 could vote and in 1928 they were given the same voting rights as men. This was due to:

  • quiet consistant gov pressure by the NUWSS
  • War work of women showing them to be responsible and capable.
  • Coalition governement
  • Now more women than men but still a while before women would play a significant role in politics.

In 1918 The Qualification of Women Bill was passed and so women now had the right to become MPs. But in the 1918 general election out of a total of 1, 623 candidates nlly 17 were women and from these only one elcted. Countess Constance Markevic who campainged from Holloway prison where she was being kept( Sinn Fein ) on suspicion of helping th Germans in the war. Like all Seinn Finn Memberes she refused to take up her seat in protest of Britain's policy in Ireland,

The first three female MPs to be elected were all elected in seats previously held by their husbands.

  • Viscountess Astor-1919-in Plymouth
  • Margaret Wintringham-1921
  • Mabel Philipson-1923
  • Wasn't until 1924 when Maragret Bondfield that a woman was elected nt in a seat that her husband had previously held.
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  • When the war was over most women were expected to return their 'rightful' place in the home.
  • Munitions workers paid off with two weeks wages and civil servants were dismissed.
  • With 18 months 3/4 of the women who took on war work had left their jobs.
  • many were happy to give up work but others were resentful that they had to return to low-paid domestic service.
  • People assumed that every woman could rely on a wage earning husband-but not that simple- war had killed one million people mostly men between 18-41 so women in this age group would be less likely to find a husband and so one in three women had to be self-supporting-but these facts were ignored.
  • There were less women working in 1920 than there were before the war.
  • However, domestic service did decline and by as early as 1931 had disappeared as an occupation.
  • Some women especially clerks did stay on, en didn' want to return to clerk jobs and were replaced with the female short-hand typist.
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Social Attitudes

  • Belief that women should give up jobs when they married reflected the belief that men were the breadwinners and decision makers.
  • Mptherhood without marriage was considered a major indescretin and in 1918 when Marie Stopes advertised birth control she was highly condemned by the Church and Newspapers.
  • In education things were slow to change:
  • most girls left school at 14 and less than 1% were educated beyond 18
  • Oxford uni only had 750 places for women and cambridge did not accept women till 1941.
  • There was a change in that from 1923 women could divorce their husbands for adultery.
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