Feminism and Voluntary Action
Women born late in Victoria's reign were beneficiaries of expanded educational opportunities; however, legal and social conventions stifled many ambitions. Charity work represented a chance for adventure and rebellion, but it was also thankless work that could be physically and morally exhausting. Like many other women from her class background, Eglantyne Jebb, was drawn into what was called philanthropy and charity work. A grammar school teacher, publicist and fundraiser for Macedonian Relief Fund, Agricultural Organization Society, Fight the Famine Council and co-founder of Save the Children, Jebb led a group of feminists and pacifists to collaborate on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly on 26 November 1924 as the World Child Welfare Charter. This book uses Jebb's life as a lens through which to view the role volunteering played in women's lives before and after the First World War. By overcoming the patronizing connotations usually associated with being a ‘Lady Bountiful’, and by her efforts to give aid to children regardless of their race or creed, Jebb created the first international child welfare charity and brought a professional ethos to unpaid social work.