May Talk: From Welsh mam to modern woman

This month’s lecture was given by Non Thomas, a committee member of the Historical Association, Swansea Branch.

The talk chartered the transition over the last century of the majority of Welsh women, from hardworking housewives in a patriarchal society to modern career seekers. In the early twentieth century women from the valley towns living in substandard housing faced a life of drudgery and childbearing. They  tended to be poorly educated and their place in society was reinforced by  Non-Conformist religion with its male ministers and deacons.

With the advent of two World Wars, women were needed to replace men at the front and they worked in armament factories and other industries. Between 1925 and 1938, some 39,0000 people left Wales seeking work in Slough and the Midlands. This period saw the development of industrial estates such as Treforest, Hirwaun and Bridgend where light industry was more suited to women.

As the twentieth century progressed, improvements in housing, healthcare, equal pay, and statutory maternity leave transformed their
working lives.

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