Role of women in australia
At the beginning of World War 1, significantly less women than men were in paid employment, and these jobs held by women were generally paid considerably lower. The departure of about half a million men to war, most of whom had been in the workforce, did not result in their immediate replacement by women. Before the outbreak of war, it was uncommon for women to have jobs aside from domestic serving roles. Women’s jobs were typically managing the home and raising children. As the war began, women’s involvement in the workforce increased from 24 per cent in 1914, to 37 per cent in 1918. The increase tended to be in what were already traditional areas of women’s work; in the clothing industry, cooking and printing divisions.
Some women pursued field outside the more traditional roles and become further involved in war-related activities- as chefs, stretcher carriers, drivers, translators or interpreters, arms workers. However, the government did not allow this involvement.
Many women’s organisations became very active throughout the war. These included; Country Women’s Association, the Australian Women’s National League, the Australian Red Cross, the Voluntary Aid Detachment, the Australian Women’s Service Corps, and the Women’s Peace Army.
In 1914, many women in Australia were working. By doing all of this work, women proved themselves in typical men’s roles. Women were still expected to work in their homes and as mothers as well as working in ammunitions factories, offices and large stores. Women appreciated mens’ war efforts and to show that their appreciation, they knitted clothing and blankets, on prepared hampers for the soldiers. They made ammunition and bombs and several women nurses worked on the front. Approximately 3000 Australian women journeyed to serve in all aspects of war and on transport and hospital ships, tending to the wounded after battle. Nurses worked under risky conditions and many were wounded and roughly thirteen died. The Australian Government did not allow women to join the army. Thousands of women aided with recruitment campaigns, fundraising and charity work. Thousands of women aided troops by voluntarily providing them with clothing, tobacco, medicines and other comforts. They also made clothing for Allied forces refugees. Women also tended to returning invalids through the Red Cross. They met returning hospital ships and provided kitchens and rest homes. To pay for this work, the Red Cross raised 20 million Australian dollars.
The return of men from the War resulted in women being pushed out of their jobs again but some of the wives of injured soldiers, who could no longer work, took on their husband’s jobs.
Role of women in europe
As thousands of men were forced to leave industrial, government service, political and agricultural jobs to join the front, women remained and were solely responsible for household, farm and children. Soldier’s income barely provided enough for their families to survive. The amount of prostitutes increased rapidly with the outbreak of war. Women’s organisations raised money and other donations, organized war kitchens and held lectures on economical housekeeping and the possibility, “to make something out of nothing”. The jobs vacated by the men made to go to war opened employment for women.
European women began to replace men in occupations like civil engineering; the types of jobs men had never trusted women with before. Employment opportunities for women advanced and were now much better than before the war. Even though it was a great improvement, it was also problematic as working women were shamelessly exploited; did the same work but were paid a considerably less. For the same amount of work, women received approximately 40% of the salary that men made. Women who worked in the artilleries industry, in ammunition, powder and barbed wire factories, worked under extremely dangerous conditions, for up to 13 hours each day. Women were also working in nursing and medical jobs at the front. However, there were very few qualified nurses until 1913 when Red Cross began offering training for interested women, in the Vienna General Hospital. Women and girls at the front were those in Austria-Hungary who had volunteered. Their job was to collect information about their opponent on enemy territory, to supply the fighting troops with food and water or replace the men in the offices of the military agencies.
There were also women in Europe who fought as soldiers, even though that was not intended or wanted. At times women, joined the army under a fake name to be able to fight as a soldier. Maria Senta Hauler was accepted into the Infantry Regiment under her false male identity (“Schutze Wolf Hauler”). She even received a medal for her bravery. When she was discovered, she was immediately transferred to the communications services.
By 1917, the war had claimed thousands of victims and the emperor allowed the establishment of a voluntary female auxiliary company. Tens of thousands of women took over the military auxiliary functions. Women daily transported 30 to 40 kilograms of ammunition, food and medicine up to one thousand metres above sea level to the troops in the hills.
There was little or no recognition and acknowledgement for women after the war as men returned to their occupation. War widows became receivers of government handouts. A famous German activist for women’s rights described their predicament as: “too dumb to vote but smart enough to be made to work during the war”, despite the facts they had seemed good enough to replace the male labour and had endured hardship, they had still not come closer to equality.
Women’s support in propaganda
Some Australian women were among World War 1’s strongest supporters. They aided in recruiting campaigns; distributing posters and pamphlets, and speaking at rallies. Some women humiliated men into enlisting by giving out white feathers (a symbol of cowardice) to men that had not volunteered. The Australian Women’s National League campaigned for conscription. Some women, however, were among World War 1’s greatest critics. Vida Goldstein was part of a peace organisation and campaigned against conscription. The conscription debate began in a referendum in which Australians were asked “are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this War, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?” (Museum Victoria)