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World War I – Women

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Due to the fact of the absence of many men, who either joined the military and/or took jobs in a war production industry; women were obligated to move outside their traditional roles and take positions in employment historically reserved for men. For instance in the United States, images like “Rosie the Riveter” promoted the ideology that it was patriotic and not unfeminine for women to work in these various industries. Posters in Canada were launched illustrating a women holding a bomb stating “I’m making bombs and buying bonds.

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In March 1942, Prime Minister Mackenzie King established the National Selective Service and declare recruitment of women for employment to be “the most important single factor of the program. Initially, the programs was designed to target young unmarried women. However, that pool was quickly exhausted and was forced to expand to mothers of young children for full time work. In anticipation of the various issues pertaining to child care, the federal Minister of Labour was empowered to enter into agreement with the provinces in establishing facilities that would accommodate children of mothers in war industries.

Although this program was ultimately unsuccessful, this essentially established tyne foundation to modern day child daycare. Another sector within the women’s movement was the formation of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, a milestone amongst the history of women’s participation in the Canadian military. Prior to the Second World War, Canadian women served predominantly as nurses. In September 1939, Canada went to war and within months, several unofficial women’s corps, containing thousands of members were organized across the country.

Women joined groups such as the Women’s volunteer Reserve corps, which operated out of Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. The Canadian Auxiliary Territorial Service operated out of Ontario and the western provinces. Out of their own volition, personal time, and expenses, military courses such as Morse code signalling and map reading were taught to these women volunteers. However, the notion of women acting a warriors did not bode well with many gender stereotypes.

As it stood, women were infiltrating the industrial workforce, sceptics pondered the ramification to the family unit and potential effects. “We Serve That Men May Fly; We Serve That Men May Fight; We Are the Women Behind the Men Behind the Guns” This motto of the women’s services, reflects the eventual role that women played by the end of the war. By war’s end, almost 50,000 women had served in one of the three women’s services: the Royal Canadian Air Force (Women’s Division), commonly called the WDs; the CWAC; and the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS)

Cite this World War I – Women

World War I – Women. (2016, Nov 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/world-war-i-women/

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