Labour Women: Women in British Working Class Politics, 1918-1939

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After winning the vote in 1918, many thousands of working class women joined the Labour Party and Co-operative Movement. This book is about their struggle to find a place in the male world of organised labour politics. In the twenties, labour women challenged male leaders to give them equal status and support for their reform programmes, but the ideas were rejected. For most labour women, dedication to the class cause far outweighed their desire for power, and the struggle for 'women-power' was abandoned. Consequently, despite the common reform agendas of labour women and the middle class feminists of the era, a working alliance was never achieved. Labour Women uses oral and questionnaire testimony to draw a portrait of grass-roots activists. It contrasts labour women's failure to win power in the national organisations with their great achievements in community politics, poor law administration and municipal government.