Segments in this Video

World War I Home Front (02:26)


British women demonstrated that they could be as active and productive as men. This film will examine their roles during and after the Great War.

Suffrage Movement (02:08)

Kate Adie reads a Biblical passage about female subservience in St. Botolph's Church in London. Britain in 1914 was a male dominated world, but women campaigned and protested for the right to vote.

Patriotism vs. Women's Rights (02:09)

In 1914, Suffragettes suspended their campaign to support Britain's war declaration. German warships attacked Northern England—killing women and children. "Remember Scarborough" became a rallying cry for joining volunteer organizations.

Volunteering for the War Effort (02:08)

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry sent aristocratic women to France as ambulance drivers. The Women's Volunteer Reserve was middle class due to uniform cost; many enjoyed its public authority.

Unlikely Wartime Alliance (02:53)

Aristocratic women cut spending, putting working class women out of work. Trade union leader and Suffragette Mary McArthur met with the Queen to lobby for poor women's employment, after which the Queen supported charity work.

Munitions Girls (03:22)

Lloyd George supported a working class women’s demonstration to serve in the war effort. As a result, the British government recruited them to produce shells—expanding the national arsenal. The work was liberating for those previously employed in domestic service.

Working with Explosives (04:18)

Munitions factories were military targets; women evacuated during air raids. TNT exposure turned skin yellow—earning workers the name "canary girls." The daughter of a worker describes her mother's ingestion of the powder during pregnancy.

Munition Worker Health (02:02)

The British government introduced canteens and soccer teams to improve nutrition and boost morale. Women's sports flourished while men were at war.

Women's Wartime Soccer League (03:06)

The Blyth Spartan's Munitions Girls Team formed In 1917. Local star Bella Reay's granddaughter discusses her fame. Games drew up to 20,000 spectators but women were banned from soccer in 1921.

Women's Police Service (02:51)

Working women went to pubs after shifts—causing a moral panic. Margaret Damer Dawson formed a volunteer female police force in London. They weren't allowed to make arrests, and only dealt with women.

Law Enforcement Gender Discrimination (02:18)

Men were uncomfortable with managing female worker disputes; women police kept order in factories. After the war, women became constables but Dawson's officers were rejected as candidates.

Smokes for Soldiers (02:47)

Popular song celebrated women workers. Their images reached the front line in cigarette packages as part of a tobacco supply project led by Lady Denman, a Suffragette.

Dilution Policy (02:16)

In 1916, shipyards began employing women, who were paid less than male counterparts. A skilled job was divided into two or three parts for women; unions feared a feminization of the workforce.

Voluntary Aid Detachment (02:17)

By 1916, wounded men began to return home. Volunteers joined nurses in auxiliary hospitals; Lady Jane Grey describes assisting in surgery. VADs weren't threatening to the male establishment.

Women's Hospital Corps (05:02)

There were 500 qualified female doctors in Britain in 1914. Suffragettes Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson ran a London military hospital—proving women were capable of surgery and psychological treatment.

Representation of the People Act (04:12)

By 1917, women were involved in public life on the home front but couldn't vote. They observed Parliament from a gallery. With Lloyd George's support, legislation passed granting female householders over 30 the right to vote.

Victory and Loss (02:01)

After women won the vote, a symbolic grill hiding them from Parliament was removed. By the end of 1918, only a third of adult women were employed—despite munitions worker's protests.

Ongoing Struggle for Equality (01:50)

The British government instructed women to return to domesticity after the war; they'd proved themselves in public life. In 1921, the first female Church of England clergy member preached at St. Botolph's.

Credits: Women of World War One (00:37)

Credits: Women of World War One

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Women of World War One

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In 1914, women all over Europe were experiencing the impact of a war that reached into every corner of people’s lives. In Britain, war came to the Home Front and in doing so ushered in a seismic shift in the lives of women far from the front line of battle, and this fascinating program is filled with examples of women from all walks of life, every class and every corner of Britain, and their contributions to the war effort – in the factories, the banks, pulpits and even football pitches. This is their story and shows how, ultimately, victory lay not just in leaving the traditional confines of their lives behind and shouldering responsibility as never before, but culminated in women gaining the vote. The Enfranchisement Bill passed on 6 February 1918 can be attributed to Britain’s wartime women fighting on the Home Front. A BBC Production. 

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL86566

ISBN: 978-1-60057-789-5

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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