Women in the Great War
The First World War was just as much an ordeal for women as it was for men. They mobilised in mass as soon as René Viviani, President of the Council, sent out his appeal during the fi rst days of fi ghting and actively participate in the war efforts for four long years. Those that the newspaper La Guerre documentée repeatedly qualifi ed in its columns as “substitutes” – La Baïonnette also brought out an edition under this title in November1915 – made themselves indispensable by supporting fi ghters (nurses, wartime godmothers) but also, by counterbalancing the defi cit of male labour, ensuring the full performance of the country's economic activity(agriculture, war industry).In addition to keeping the home and caring for the children, women played a major role during the confl ict. By proving that they were capable of “substituting” men in sectors of activity of which they had, until then been excluded. They asserted themselves more in society and strived legitimately to take a decisive step towards their emancipation. The balance is subtle and the journalist Séverine does not hesitate to bitterly conclude that women were only the “servants of the war”. Yet, nothing will be as before and an article from &amp;quot;La Vie feminine&amp;quot; in 1919 states that the Great War enabled humanity to “become aware of his other half”.
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