Women and World War 2

As today and tomorrow the United Nations promotes time of remembrance and reconciliation for those who lost their lives during the Second World War, we want to shed light on the role that women play during war. Since the scale of the Second World War gave birth to massive global conflict and the scale was unprecedented, both the superpowers decided to mobilize women into the folds of the world war. While The Soviet Union took a utilitarian role and decided to recruit women directly into their armed forces unit, The United States elected to not use women as officers because of the wide-spread patriarchal ideology that would not tolerate women as officers, but appointed them as administrative officers, nurses, truck drivers, mechanics and electricians.

With the limitations in roles and the rampant xenophobia and advent of war, discrimination and limitations were widespread. Women were expected to perform at the standard of men, were paid one-third of what a male employee earned, they underwent the same military training, lived in the same conditions as men and were still not allowed to participate in front-line combat. The limitation can be seen in the fact that female officers were not awarded medals for bravery because they were given to officers for “active operations against enemy in the field”. Despite this, women were eager to volunteer and leave behind their restrictive backgrounds.

During the war, approximately 487,000 women volunteered for women’s services. By 1941, the demand for men to be relieved off their jobs and take on more active roles at the battlefield expanded the call for women services. With the advent of war, there was an urgent need for women to leave the assembly, which was seen as undemanding work and therefore attributed to the female workers only, and enter the workplace as factory labour.

So today, we remember the women who entered into designated male sectors by raging against rampant patriarchy and highlighting that the propagation of gender equality could not only have saved lives which were lost, but also save the economy that took a huge hit after the second world war.