Women and the First World War

14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW connects people with the First World War commissioning today's artists to open up new perspectives on the present as well as the past. 100 years after the first women in the UK were afforded the vote, here's how The First World War changed forever the position of women in society. 

Although many women were in paid employment before the First World War broke out, many more came into the workforce in its course. As munitions workers, bus drivers, farmers, servicewomen in the armed forces, police officers—and in many other jobs from which they had traditionally been excluded—many women experienced a new sense of independence.
These new responsibilities gave women new freedoms – and they also led to a new look, as tight corsets and heavy skirts were replaced by more natural and fluid silhouettes. A century later, this era inspired Fashion & Freedom, an ambitious, multi-faceted exhibition that examines the fashion legacy of the First World War for the 21st century.
Katrina Palmer’s The Coffin Jump is inspired by the role of women in the First World War, with specific reference to the all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY).
At Yorkshire Sculpture Park from 15 June 2018

In spite of the nurses’ courage, the British Army initially refused to be associated with the women of the FANY, so instead they gave medical support to the Belgian and French armies.

Katrina Palmer makes reference to the women's battle against prejudice through words drawn from sources that include the diaries of FANY member Muriel Thompson.

Inscribed on the obstacle over which the horse leaps, phrases such as ‘woman saves man’ and ‘nothing special happened’ highlight the everyday heroism of women during the First World War.

A few months before the end of the First World War, some 8.4 million women were for the first time granted the right to vote in parliamentary elections. 
This was the culmination of a hard-fought campaign that had begun tentatively in 1866.

As a Suffragette, Sylvia Pankhurst was imprisoned and force-fed more than any other campaigner.

Exactly a century after (some) British women were first given the right to vote, Kate Prince, one of the UK’s leading choreographers, celebrates the life of Sylvia Pankhurst.

A dynamic modern musical fusing dance, hip hop, soul and funk, Sylvia sheds new light on a remarkable figure at the heart of the suffrage movement.

PROCESSIONS
One hundred years on from the first women getting the vote, 14-18 NOW and Artichoke, the UK’s largest producer of art in the public realm, invite women* and girls across the nation to mark this moment by taking part in a major mass-participation artwork.

Paying homage to the great processions of the suffrage movement, on 10 June 2018, thousands of women and girls from across the UK will walk together in public processions in the four political capitals

To prepare for the event, female artists have led workshops all over the country to make banners that reflect modern women’s priorities.
Clean Break Workshop, 2018

Women will march through the UK's four political capitals in Green, White and Violet - the colours of the suffrage movement.

Find out more about PROCESSIONS here

The Representation of the People Act 1918 only gave the vote to some women - those over the age of 30, with a property qualification
Represent invites young female artists to explore democracy, equality and inclusion in contemporary Britain. 

Debris Stevenson invites you to step into a technicolour world where music, dance and spoken word collide, and discover how grime allowed her to redefine herself.

A century after Parliament gave the first women the right to vote, Selina Thompson’s provocative new work turns this moment of democratic history on its head. Sortition is produced by and with Britons under the age of 30 who have never voted and have no intention of voting – ever.

Part horror movie, part comedy, Make Me Up reflects on the shortcomings of our journey towards equality throughout the past century.
A new film by acclaimed Scottish artist Rachel Maclean.
Credits: Story

14-18 NOW is a five-year programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War. Working with arts and heritage partners all across the UK, we commission new artworks from leading contemporary artists, musicians, designers and performers, inspired by the period 1914-18.

For more information visit 1418now.org.uk

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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