This Lesson • Describe some of the different types of work done by women during the war • Explain why some women went that bit further to help the war • State some of the reasons why men were uneasy with the new female workforce
Women’s Contribution • When war broke out the Government released all WSPU prisoners. WSPU began a new pro-war propaganda campaign encouraging men to join up and women to demand the ‘right to serve’. • The soon began filling gaps in the workforce. • Conductors on trams and buses, office work, 200,000 in Government departments, Land Army, police etc.
Mairi Chisholm • Joined first aid post behind front line in Belgium in 1914, aged 18. • Belgian King awarded her the Order of Leopold in 1915. • Affected by poison gas in 1918, but did return to post when recovered.
“Forty-eight hours on duty at a stretch with about 500 dead or dying or wounded soldiers to attend to, have often constituted what I might term a day’s work for us in the first stages of war”. • “We worked a lot to rescue pilots who had been shot down in no man’s land. We used to have to make expectations to try and get the pilots out. We went on foot, not always with stretchers, just hoping to be able to get them…” How do these comments show a different side to role women played in the war effort?
Elsie Inglis • Creation of Scottish Women’s Hospitals Committee which sent over 1000 women to war zones. • Involved in setting up 4 Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Questions 3 – 6
Women and ‘Men’s work’ • By 1917 over 30,000 women employed in munitions in Scotland. • Men in engineering factories worried about loss of status and threat to wages. • Men who had served apprenticeships to become skilled workers feared that their skills would be ‘diluted’ by quickly-trained women. • Dilution scheme introduced by Ministry of Munitions in response to this row.
Dangers in Mines • Despite the cheery image ‘munitionettes’ had a tough job • They worked long hours and it was dangerous • Over 130 women died and many suffered from a yellowing of the skin – they were called ‘Canaries’ Questions 1 - 7
Women and the Rent Strikes • Refusal of people, mainly women, to pay high rents charged by landlords. • Feb 1915, Helen Crawfurd, Mary Barbour, Agnes Dollan and Jessie Stephens helped form the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association to resist rent rises and threatened evictions. • May 1915 1st rent strike began – about 25,000 Glasgow tenants joined strike.
Rent strikes began to spread to other cities like Aberdeen and Dundee. • Landlords threatened eviction, fines or prison. • Women made it impossible to evict tenants by blocking access to tenements.
Why Glasgow? • Vital to war effort – shipyards, engineering factories etc. • Population increased as workers came to fill jobs. • Demand for housing also increased, and so rents rocketed for poor housing. • People being evicted as they couldn’t pay rent that had increased by as much as 20%.
Government concern • Mass demonstration in George Square on 17 Nov 1915. • Some men striking in sympathy and to campaign for higher wages. • Threat to wartime production. • Rent Restrictions Act introduced – rents frozen at 1914 levels unless improvements made to property. Question 1 - 8
Post-War • Most did not keep wartime jobs. • Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act meant returning soldiers given back jobs. • Closure of munitions factories. • Within a few years, over 25% of working women back in domestic service – more than before the war.