The lives of Canadian women were enormously changed by the First and Second World Wars. They were forced to adapt to the conditions of total war in practical terms. They worked, volunteered, and served in uniform. The contributions made by the women to the war effort were very significant and their experienced changed the perception of women’s capability within the society. During the Second World War, Canadian women were not permitted to fight but they were involved in every other thing. Some joined the women’s army division and wartime industry while others were homemakers who took care of the families.
Women’s Motivation To Join the War
At the onset of the World War II, Canadian women felt that they needed to be directly involved in the war. In October 1938, the Canadian Women’s Volunteer Service was founded in Victoria and although only 20 women volunteers were required over 100 women arrived for the effort. Shortly after, more and more women felt that they needed to do their part, leading to the creation of the Women’s Service Corp. Similar volunteer groups were also established across the other Canadian provinces. The volunteer corps was designed after the auxiliary groups from Britain.
Role of Women At Home
The role of women at home was essential to the war effort. Before the World War II, women were to stay at home while the men worked and played in the public domain. However, the outbreak of the war forced the society to rethink the role of women away from home. The majority of women were involved in the unpaid voluntary work to support the war. They collected and recycled items and clothing for distribution overseas. The women also had the responsibility of maintaining the morale of the nation. They sold war saving stamps that amounted to $318 million at the end of the program.
When men left their jobs to join the war, women stepped in to fill their position. The jobs were essential for the war supplies, especially when munitions became vital for the war effort. Women excelled in these male-dominated industries. The government supported the initiative by creating daycares to assist women who needed to work but had children. The women were expected to quite the jobs when men returned from war. Women’s work in the factories was perhaps the most important role in the World War II.
Women Army Corps
The Canadian Women Army Corps was established in 1941 and by the end of the war, it had 21,000 members. Women took up roles such as cooks, canteen helpers, telephone operators, clerks, and drivers of light vehicles. Most of the CWACs worked in Canada with only a few sent overseas. Four of the women sent overseas were wounded and none was killed in the war.
Some of the Canadian women were enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and the Air Force. The WRCNS was established in 1942 while the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was established in 1941. Other women served as Nursing Sisters and the young women had a chance to move away from their homes, go to parties and dance as a patriotic duty.