Trailblazers: World War One’s Inspirational Women
The First World War was a period of immense change for women, in Britain and across the world. Dr. Elsie Inglis, Sophia Duleep Singh, and Millicent Fawcett are just a few of the trailblazers who created change in their societies during the First World War.
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One hundred years since women gained the right to vote we launched Trailblazers: World War One’s Inspirational Women – a nationwide project about inspirational women from the First World War and their impact on the societies around them. Trailblazers encourages young people to explore the incredible lives of women from the First World War, to discover Trailblazing women in your locality, and to develop as future Trailblazers.
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Trailblazers of World War One included:
Dr. Elsie Inglis – a social and medical reformer, and one of the most highly qualified female doctors of her time. At the start of the war, the British government refused Inglis’s offer to work as an army doctor because she was a woman. Determined to help, Inglis joined the French war effort and was stationed in Serbia where she managed a hospital. Her work was much admired, and she was the first woman to be awarded the Serbian Order of the White Eagle (First Class).
Sophia Duleep Singh – the daughter of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Kingdom who was exiled to Britain in 1854. She sold copies of The Suffragette outside Hampton Court Palace, where she lived. She funded suffragette groups and became a high-profile suffragette herself. After the First World War broke out, Duleep Singh worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse where she treated many Indian patients. She also devoted her time to raising funds for Indian soldiers abroad through the soldier’s welfare fund.
Millicent Fawcett – a leading advocate for women’s suffrage who was passionate about the right of women to access higher education and have the right to vote. Fawcett was a tireless campaigner and a long-serving president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). She believed that the vote could be achieved by campaigning peacefully. Millicent Fawcett was a strong speaker, organiser, and leader. Her contribution was recognised when she was made Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1925.
Schools and community groups across the country can research a contemporary Trailblazer in your local community and display posters celebrating the incredible achievements of women today. Visit our take part page to find out more.
Watch our video from the launch of the project at Swanshurst School in Birmingham:
How you can get involved in Trailblazers
Visit our take part page to get involved.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to take part and for further information.
Trailblazers: World War One’s Inspirational Women is led by Big Ideas and funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), with additional funding from a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund to work in the Home Nations. Trailblazers is part of Remember Together, which brings diverse communities together to commemorate shared – and often sidelined – heritage, bringing significant marginalised heritage into the mainstream.