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How did the first world war affect the status of women?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The begining of the war.
    1. All men left for the front.
    2. The image of the 'peasant woman'.
  3. The course of year 1914.
    1. Adjustment in the respective role of men and women.
    2. The working conditions in factories.
    3. Women in the medical field.
  4. The affect of the Great War on a women's daily lives.
  5. The wars appearance as comforting social norms.
    1. Family and women as an element of motivation and hope.
    2. The duty to contribute to the preservation of the good morale.
    3. Women and the hope of the regeneration of their countries.
  6. Debate around maternity during the Great War.
    1. The question of illegitimate children.
  7. Economic hardships.
  8. The demobilization of women.
  9. Conclusion.
  10. Bibliography.

The First World War is one of the first conflicts, which called for the participation, and mobilization of all people, fighters as much as non-fighters. So, at the announcement of the war, men and women are going to answer present. The society and the economy of every country are going to be upset. Indeed, the life of women before 1914 was very constrained. Few worked. Their role in society was generally confined to domestic tasks and certain types of jobs. But, from 1914 onwards, women contributed massively to the war effort: in fields, factories, and hospitals. Women played then a major role in the economy of their country. Thus, women's work and status began to change. This war was in fact perceived by women as an opportunity to gain finally access to education, to work and equality. So, why the First World War finally constituted a turning point in the life of women, and why it entitled to some degree of emancipation. For that purpose, we shall see in a first part how women mobilized during this war, then in a second part, we shall concentrate more particularly on the duties than the men expected especially from women, that is to say, comfort, love and children. Finally, we shall see the consequences of this war on female emancipation, and its fights.

[...] Ploughing was all the more difficult for them as a big part of the cattle had been requisitioned for the war and machines were not suited to their size. Therefore, at first, agricultural output dropped in France, explaining certain scarcities in 1917 and 1918.3 Nevertheless, women worked with courage to keep agriculture running which would have been impossible without them. They become in this way the first war heroes. The feminists used for that matter the image of the " peasant woman " (behind the plow) as the perfect symbol of feminine patriotism in action. [...]


[...] But, at the announcement of the mobilization, they did not meet any longer public interest for their fight. They had to switch priorities and then preferred to join the population in the war effort. So, their fight was put on hold. Nevertheless, more women joined trade unions.3 For example, in England and Wales, women's trade union membership rose from in 1914 to in 1918. Many women also supported pacifist fights. It was unthinkable at this time because it meant that they had broken up with all their education. [...]


[...] These were women of future?, who were the pioneers of deep social changes that would take decades to come about in most developed countries and are still awaited today in many other countries. So, the First World War played a crucial role in accelerating developments in the history of feminism. Certain historians went as far as to say that it really liberated them, but this comment is certainly excessive. The First World War allowed in fact, in a way, a faster emancipation of women. Women were not, indeed, considered in 1919 as they were in 1914, although there was a real attempt by men to come back to the very same [...]

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