Women of World War I and World War Ii

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Vincent Pasquale

March 28, 2010

Western Civ. 102

World War I and World War II had a profound effect on many people living during those time periods. During World War I and World War II thousands lost their lives fighting for their respective countries. Men played a crucial part in fighting for their countries on the war front, but on the home front women played a crucial part also. During both World War I and World War II, women were called on to do work and take on major roles that were outside their traditional gender expectations while the men fought. Although the wars were a particularly violent time, it brought many changes, to everyday life, to the economic and social relations of men and women, and gender roles.

World War I was a military conflict that lasted from 1914 to 1918 and involved several of the world's great powers. During World War I men of all nations like the U.S, Britain, France Germany, Italy and etc. enlisted in the many branches of the military like the marines, the navy, the air force, and the army (Spielvogel 535). Men went out and fought for their countries not knowing what was going to happen each day. Millions of men lost their lives during World War I. World War I brought many casualties because of the introduction to trench warfare. The four years that World War I lasted caused women to step into various jobs that they were unfamiliar with. Spielvogel explains “With so many men off fighting at the front, women were called upon to take over jobs and responsibilities that had not been available to them before” (Spielvogel 544). Also with millions of men away fighting and the inevitable high amounts of casualties, this caused many economic issues. There was a severe shortage in a variety of industries, anywhere from rural and farm work to city office jobs (Spielvogel 544).


While the American men were off fighting, women in the U.S were taking on vital roles in their households on the home front. Women took on countless jobs that the men normally held when they were on the home front. Women built tanks and munitions for the war efforts (Spielvogel 545). They also plowed fields, paved streets, and ran hospitals (Spielvogel 545). They made sure that the troops were supplied with food, clothing and plenty weapons. The women that were employed in munitions factories were popularly known as munitionettes who have become one of the most visible faces of the woman worker in WWII. Women took on the roles at home and never really saw too much of the war. Nursing was the only area of female contribution that involved being at the front and experiencing the war. With women taking on various job types they showed that women were highly capable in diverse fields. This starts the feminist’s movement where women are fighting the inequalities that exist in society. After World War I ends, women are able to vote in 1920 because of all their efforts for when the men were off at war. Spielvogel explains “The participation of women in World War I and World War II achieve one of the major aims of the nineteenth century feminist-movement- the right to vote” (Spielvogel 625).

Feminism is the movement of that started during the 19th century through early 20th centuries, which dealt mainly with the Suffrage (Spielvogel 625). The feminist movement was a series of campaigns on issues important to women such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, the right to have maternity leave, having equal pay(Spielvogel 625). The movement also dealt with voting rights, sexual harassment, and sexual violence(Spielvogel 625). It was setup in two types of movement. The first-wave feminism mainly focused on overturning legal obstacles to equality. The second-wave feminism successfully addresses a wide range of issues, such as unofficial inequalities, official legal inequalities, sexuality, family, the workplace, and, perhaps the most...
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