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Canada and the War : Women in World War 2

Women workers producing primers - AN19900075-081
Women workers producing primers

Life on the Home Front: Women and the War on the Home Front

With so many men absent from home in the armed forces and with industries pushing for more production, the Canadian government actively urged women to work in the war effort.

In 1942 Ottawa registered all women born between 1918 and 1922, those then ages 20 to 24, into the Selective Service to meet possible labour shortages. In 1943-1944, some 439,000 women were in the service sectors of the Canadian economy. A further 373,000 had jobs in manufacturing, and of these about 261,000 worked directly in the munitions industries, a large number doing tasks traditionally considered to belong to men. Women, for example, worked in shipyards and in the smelter at Sudbury, and made up 30% of the workforce in Canada's aircraft industry.

Many more women worked in the home or on farms, and often combined this with volunteer work with the Red Cross or in military canteens. They also organized salvage drives or helped to prepare packages for the military overseas or for prisoners of war in the Axis countries. The Department of National War Services coordinated many of these voluntary activities at a national level.

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