Author(s): Christophe THOMAS
The First World War was as much a ordeal for women as it was for men. They were mobilised en masse from the very beginning, at the invitation of Rene Viviani, President of the Council, and actively participated in the war effort for four long years. Those that La Guerre Documentee repeatedly refers to as "substitutes" in its columns made themselves indispensable by the support given to combatants (as nurses and as 'marraines de guerre'), but also by offsetting the deficit of male labour, ensuring the full performance of the country's economic activity. In addition to keeping the home and caring for children, women played a major role during the conflict. By proving that they were capable of supplying men with sectors of activity from which they had hitherto been excluded, they asserted themselves more in society, and legitimately aspired to take a decisive step towards their emancipation. The balance is nuanced, and the famous journalist Severine did not hesitate to conclude bitterly that women were only the "servants of the war". However, it became clear that nothing would ever be the same again.