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1930 to 1939 

The Marriage Bar

"I would rather be a rebel than a slave" - Emmeline Pankhurst

​​Although, women were “person’s in their own right” and there were some notable women’s achievements like Amy Johnson with the magnificent saga of her solo flight to Australia in 1930, women were still very much second class citizens.

1930 The National Birth Control Council is founded later known as the Family Planning Association (FPA) allowing women more freedom over their own fertility for the first time.

But with the Great Depression in full force, the early part of this decade saw women thrown out of employment and actively encouraged back into the home.  Women were not only paid significantly lower wages than their male peers, the “marriage bar” was common policy for most large organisations, including the civil service, the professions and the BBC. The marriage bar actively discriminated against married women by applying a ban on married women in their workplace.  This ensured that only 1 in 10 married women were able to gain employment outside the home (mostly in more menial positions where this practise was less prevalent), compared to 1 in 3 single women. 

1937 saw Lady Astor the first female MP became the President of the newly founded British Federation of Business and Professional Women. The Matrimonial Causes act also came into force in this year, which extended the ability of women to divorce on the grounds of desertion, cruelty and insanity.


1938 Edith Summerskill and Juanita Frances founded The Married Women’s Association, which was set up to tackle financial inequality in marriage, secure equal guardianship rights for mothers and to included women in the National Insurance Act with equal provision.


Electrical appliances such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines started improving women’s lot in the home for the first time.

By 1939 we were at war again WW2 and Lady Gertrude Denman

headed the re-launch of the Women’s Land Army.

World War Two - Women's Land

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