There is no indication in the records as to why women left their post except in the rare instances when the word “married” has been noted … Did those women employed for less than a year leave because they were considered unsuitable for the post or did they find the job was not for them ? A newspaper report in 1917 concerning the assault of a former nurse, Mary Elizabeth Parry, stated that after nursing at the Asylum during 1916 she left to become a clerk at the munitions factory outside Chester …
Since WILPF’s inception, the world has experienced 224 wars. During that same timeframe, women won two important struggles for human rights. The first, of course, was the right to vote in 1920; the second, the right to reproductive freedom in 1972. Jacobs, and the group that formed out of the Hague conference insisted then, and we insist now, on a third human right —the right to be at the peace table; to be part of the decisions to make war or keep the peace. Fewer than one in 40 of the signatories of major peace agreements since 1992 have been female, according to the UN development fund for women. This needs to change.
Today, there are 50 ongoing violent conflicts resulting in 50 million refugees around the world, and untold death and destruction. The international trade of lemons and toothbrushes is regulated, but not guns and other weapons. Would the adoption of more feminist foreign policy and an increase in women’s participation in peace negotiations put an end to arms and conflict? Probably not. But the point is not to end conflict, but to resolve it without recourse to military violence. The world is missing a powerful opportunity for creating sustainable peace when it turns to military solutions and restricts the participants at peace negotiations to the men with guns.
Lilly Ledbetter’s eight year battle started with a little note she found in the women’s bathroom at work. The note ranked her salary alongside the much higher salaries of three male tire-room managers, and Ledbetter was shocked to see that her male peers were making $14,000 and more per year than she was. “I’d worried about being paid less than the men who were doing the same work I was,” Ledbetter records in her memoir, but she never had evidence to prove her suspicions (5). Armed with this alarming new information, Ledbetter took action and sued Goodyear for pay discrimination.
Shaw embodied women’s expanding opportunities in the 19th and early 20th centuries for education, work and politics, as well as the challenges they faced. An immigrant raised in poverty on a Michigan farm, from an early age Shaw worked to financially support her family, teaching school in addition to her unpaid hard physical farm labor. When she was called to the ministry, her family didn’t approve. She went it alone. She worked her way through college and seminary in the 1870s, fought for ordination, headed two parishes, and earned a medical degree, before giving all of it up to become a freelance lecturer, activist and organizer.
The Great War was not the end of everything. Cultural entertainment continued, although tinged with a patriotic influence. Literary works and poetry, theatre, music and motion pictures adopted a militant vision of society. Schools, the press and popular literature drew heavily on anti-foreign and patriotic sentiments, making it easy to demonise the German enemy. Military music and anthems were played on the radio and there were musical performances held for large audiences.
It was to be a quiet weddding, but the girls were up in arms. They wanted to be bridesmaids and we said: ‘Why not?’ We married at St Giles Cathedral, Camberwell. It was a white wedding after all, with three bridesmaids. My father gave me away.
Each writer has used historical fiction in a way that undermines the control of women’s reading. They have produced work that, while ostensibly is safe because it is ‘women’s fiction’, questions women’s place in history. Historical novels have had a mixed reception, not all of it respectful. Again, such a reputation has added to the advantages a feminist writer can enjoy in her writing history. Each writer has written her history inspired by women’s role, actions, feelings and aspirations.