THE WAR ON THE HOMEFRONT: How the women left at home still fought their own fight in WWII

Women's Power Cartoon

This cartoon reminds Canadian men to not underestimate the power of Canadian women. This image was likely sent to Minerva Reid and the Women’s Emergency Committee as a congratulations for their accomplishments.

The story of Canada during World War 2 (WW2) is often depicted through the story of the powerful men who fought the war in board rooms and on the battlefield. This retelling of Canadian history does a great disservice to the war that Canadian women fought on the homefront during WW2. Throughout and after WW2, Canadian women fought at home to aid the war effort and its soldiers as best they could. Women took on tasks not often associated with womanhood such as the male-dominated career of a factory worker. (1) Women also took up roles such as volunteering with the Red Cross to aid the war effort. These volunteer roles were the opposite of the factory professions, as they expected women to draw on the feminine traits placed upon them by the norms of a patriarchal society. Women were expected to perform emotional labour and maintain a motherly role in these volunteer roles positions. (2) Even at a time of peril and with societal norms changing women could not escape the fact that their position always came back to being emotional nurturers. While this role was put upon many women in volunteer roles during WW2, some women chose to use it as a weapon. The Women’s Emergency Committee for Wounded Veterans took on a fight to replace the old and outdated Christie Street Hospital with a new hospital. (3) The women of this committee understood the importance of emotional care from a lifetime of being told it was their role to fill. This drove them to take action against Christie Street Hospital as its structural flaws prevented its doctors from providing proper emotional care to their patients. The committee fought tirelessly to provide Wounded Veterans with a situation wherein they could enjoy themselves and not be subjected to constant misery. The Women’s Committee rallied a community of women against a male-dominated Canadian government all by using norms pressed against them as their means of arms.