How did women's rights change due to the War?

As a result of the First World War, there was a rise in equality in the United Kingdom as women's roles began to change.

During the First World War, women were increasingly employed in order to contribute to the war effort. In July 1914, 3.3 million women were employed in Britain. This increased to 4.7 million by July 1917. Additionally, British women were recruited to serve in uniform in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

The Representation of the People Act (1918)

The Representation of the People Act was implemented in 1918. Not only did it remove the classist laws that meant you had to own property to vote, but it also introduced partial women’s suffrage for women over the age of 30. Then, in 1928, there was complete suffrage as women were now covered on the same terms as men. These changes to voting laws meant there was a better chance for labour to be elected as the working class and women could now vote.

Increasing employment opportunities for women

  • The 1919 Sex Disqualification Act enabled women to work in even more professions.

  • The 1920 Unemployment Insurance Act provided 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to most workers, excluding civil servants, domestic workers and farmers. With regards to this, unemployed women were paid 12 shillings a week whilst unemployed men were paid 15 shillings a week. This reflected the remaining disparity between working men and women as women were paid significantly less than men.

  • The improvement in women’s rights was not embraced by working-class men, who believed that women, who could be hired at a lower salary, were taking their jobs. In fact, the ‘Red Clydeside’ that conservatives feared was a communist revolution was nothing of the sort. The main goal was to exclude racial minorities and women, who worked for lower salaries, from areas of the workforce and the good jobs that they wanted.