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Women's Liberation In Europe

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This paper aims at presenting an overview of the First World War ushered women’s liberation in Europe. The First World War as a watershed represent a new era of women’s liberation in European societies. Things were very different for women back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the outbreak of the war in 1914, the position of women was very low in the society. From Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (1813), we can see that women had no rights of inheriting property in the entailment law. Women were not allowed to hold property under their own names, and that would belong to their husband and remained with him even after divorce. Their traditional role at that time were homemaker, mother and wives serve their husband and family at…show more content…
Before the war, some of the working class women were mainly being employed as domestic servants, workers for tailoring and clothing, or some other less skilled industrial workers. They were only allowed to work in the jobs that men thought were “suitable” and “capable” for them. And, the government also passed Factory Acts to limit women’s labor in the factories. There were large numbers of women were bounded by the traditional gender role and tied to domestic life. Many doors in the society were still closed down for women. Then, the First World War was the turning point of new jobs and roles to women. It is due to the mobilization of entire country was being demanded in this kind of large-scale war. While millions and millions men went to the front line and died in the fights, women were needed to take men’s place in the workforce. They were not forced to work but had the willing to help in the war. From the newspaper clip in figure 1, there were around thirty thousands of women marched with the slogan of “We demand the right to serve” to appeal for war work opportunities. They took the initiative to involve in the war and work for their country. Therefore, women became more and more essential and significant during wartime Europe. They were largely been enfranchisement and employment by comparing to the…show more content…
There were some limitations on their rights to vote. Take Britain as an example, only “married women, women house-holders and women university graduates aged 30 years or over” were allowed to vote. That means there were still large of number of young and unmarried female populations were still not enfranchising by the law. The same as women in Belgium could not enjoy full suffrage that only “mothers and widows of soldiers who had died in World War I” were allowed to vote. The limited suffrage in some of these European countries shows the boundaries of the First World War in help of female liberation. Also, there were basis that some of the European countries already granted the voting rights to adult women before the First World War started, such as New Zealand in 1893, Australia in 1902, Finland in 1906 and Norway in 1913. There were countries like Denmark, Iceland in 1915 and Holland in1917 that without being involved in the War too. The female suffrage may not be a fully outcome of the First World War. It could also be a part of the progressive of Western societies or feminism
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