Here we are looking at the role that women played during WWI, but are you sure you know how the war actually started?

If not, read more here!

The Role of the Women

Stacks Image 3465
Before World War One, the British army had been involved in many wars overseas. These were mainly fought in countries that either were or would become part of Britain's Empire, places in the world under Britain's power.
The most recent war had been the Boer War in the country we now call South Africa. Men had led the battles and undertaken all roles on the front line. By contrast, women had stayed at home in Britain where, if they were married, they focused on looking after their homes and bringing up children. Single women were more likely to go out to work. However, they were often found in domestic roles such as servants and housekeepers.
Official organisations were created which women could join to help the war effort. World War I also saw the female members of the army, navy and air force don their uniforms for the first time, beginning with the Royal Navy who set up the Women's Royal Navy Service in 1916.
The WRNS were followed by the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in 1917 and finally, the Women's Royal Airforce (WRA) in 1918. While most never came too close to the front line, there was one female soldier - 20-year-old Dorothy Lawrence, a journalist who joined the British Expeditionary Force in 1915 by passing herself off as a man.

World War One was the first war to directly involve women in the war effort both at home and abroad. Many new roles other than those attached to the services were created for women, which meant that they acquired new skills and knowledge. Their new roles also came with more responsibility. This was a dramatic change from life as women knew it before the war.

Explore the women roles below…

The attacks on Belgium, France and other European countries at war meant that thousands of families saw their homes destroyed by battles and they became homeless refugees. In Britain, most civilians had felt safe, but World War One was a new kind of war. This was because the war came to Britain's doorstep and most people were at risk from Zeppelins and bombing raids that could happen at any time.
As well as encouraging their men folk to join the Army, as government posters urged them to do, women were soon directly involved in the war. As the war progressed, many went to work overseas where the fighting was taking place. Thousands of women, old and young, volunteered to help the war effort both at home and abroad. Some wealthy women ran charities to help soldiers or turned their homes into hospitals or convalescent homes. Many young women left home for the first time to help in the war effort. At first some women saw the war as an adventure but they quickly realised it was very different to war-stories they had read.
Only men were officially allowed to fight as soldiers during World War One. Many people felt that it was inappropriate for women to fight and that it was against their caring character. Brave women went into action to help the war effort in other ways.
Women took on many roles during World War One including working in offices, factories and on the land.

Before World War One began, men were thought of as the 'breadwinners', bringing in the weekly wage. The jobs they did were often tiring and required a lot of strength.

Women worked hard too, but their jobs were often done in their own or someone else's home. Only about 30% of the workforce was female and the majority of unmarried, working women were servants.