International Women’s Day is more than just a hashtag on social media. It is a day celebrated internationally by at least 100 countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Mongolia, Russia, and Ukraine. It has a radical origin with its start with the now defunct Socialist Party of America in 1909 with demands for voting rights, better pay, and shorter working hours. Here are 5 facts of how women contributed to World War 2 in honor of this day that has been celebrated for over 100 years.
1. Rosie the Riveter was probably the most effective propaganda to recruit women workers for the defense industry during WW2
By 1943, 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry, which made up 65% of the industry’s total workforce. Before the war, there had been less than 1% of women working in the industry.
3. There were actually women who served in dangerous roles in the U.S. military
Since the motto of the time was to “free a man up to fight,” many women had to fill other positions in the military from intelligence to nurses to pilots.
4. In the Philippines, many women picked up their weapons and became guerrillera fighters
They served as frontline fighters to intelligence. One of the fighters Liwayway even wore lipstick before fighting in the frontline.
6. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was formed due to the lack of men available as pilots during WW2
The members of WASP were compiled of United States federal civil service employees to test aircraft, ferried aircraft, and train other pilots in order to free up men to fight the war. There were 1074 members who completed their training, and 38 of the members have lost their lives and one disappeared while on a ferry mission. During its operation, members flew over 60 million miles, transported every type of military aircraft, towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice, and stimulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Although they served the country during WW2, they did not officially receive their veteran status until 1977.
Although these are women from different regions of the world participating in WW2, they share a common experience of being able to stand up to the test of the war, but at the same time, treated worse than their male counterparts. Women who worked in the military, factories, and farms worked overtime and were paid a lot less than men even though they did similar work. Women who suffered abuse and torture did not get any of the deserved reparations. This is why International Women’s Day should be more than a hashtag, and be served a day to remember those who endured more than we ever did in our times.