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All wars change the lives of those they touch, but nothing was as transformative and revolutionary as the Second World War, particularly for women. Traditionally, women’s roles were confined to the house and the farm, but when the war began many women found their roles, opportunities and responsibilities expanded. While the men went off to fight the war, women were called upon to fill positions that were reserved for men. They made bombs and aircrafts in factories, drove trucks, served as air raid wardens and as nurses, worked in communications, intelligence, and emergency services, and performed hundreds of other clerical duties that provided critical support to the war effort. New positions created by scientific and technological advances that didn’t even exist before the war began were taken on by women. By the end of the war, there were few noncombatant jobs in which women did not serve. But that wasn’t all. Thousands of women joined the combat through the local resistance, smuggled supplies and information and sabotaged enemy movements. Many brave women earned medals throughout the war and some even died in service of their country.

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A monument to the Women of World War 2 in London. Photo credit: Willard/Flickr

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