Women

Poster calling for women to become munitions workers

Ministry of Munitions poster calling on
women to work in the munitions industry.
Source: The National Archives

When war broke out women were immediately involved in sustaining the war effort.  Political causes such as the campaign for female suffrage were, by and large, laid on one side for the duration.

Initially most women’s contribution lay within their traditional ‘nurturing’ role – forming working parties to make comforts for the troops, making supplies for local war hospitals and training as nurses or enrolling as nursing auxiliaries, through the Red Cross VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachments).  However, increasingly they demanded and were called upon to take the place of men who had enlisted in the services in a whole range of occupations and to provide the workforce for munitions factories and other industrial concerns.  Courses at Kingston Technical Institute in book keeping and shorthand typing were run to enable ‘girls and women of good education to fill the places of men in clerical employment who have joined HM Forces’.  163 were trained to the end of October 1916, the women finding jobs in government departments, local authorities and banks.

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