December 19, 2017

1942. Married Women's Association Advocates for Women's Rights in Britain

Married Women Push for Equality
"A big demonstration in support of the International Labour Policy on Spain was held in Trafalgar Square on July 11. Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., addressing the huge meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 11, 1937" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 6, 1942

There's a new movement starting in Britain which might develop into a new force governing the nation's political and labor relations. It's called the Married Women's Association, and it is now attempting to organize all British housewives into a union. The association is based on the premise that British housewives work seven days a week for twelve to fourteen hours a day. The Married Women's Association believes that something ought to be done about it.

Mostly the Married Women's Association aims to do something about British laws which it feels now discriminate against the wife in favor of her husband. As present laws stand, wives in Britain are technically dependent on the goodwill of their husbands for support. Even their life insurance rights are wrapped up in the insurance of their husbands. British law does not compel the husband to make any provision for the wife's old age.

British husbands aren't really worrying about a united front of married women—yet. The new Married Women's Association admits its membership right now is not very large, but it's growing.

The tip-off for British husbands however came in a recent speech by Miss Ellen Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Security.

British women are now required to register for compulsory fire watching. Some women complained that they don't have time for fire watching. In fact, one housewife said if the government gave her any more household regulations such as food rationing and figuring out clothing coupons, she was going to have to hire a secretary.

Then Miss Wilkinson said that if British housewives were finding their war duties were running them short of time, they should start sending their husbands out to do the shopping. Then, she said, these husbands will begin to find out just what we wives go through to give them a comfortable home.

It will be interesting to see whether some time in the future an organization based on the wedding ring can wield influence in the House of Commons.