Our women played a major role along with our soldiers in WWI, the women took over once the men were at war. The women weren't that experienced with the jobs but they did it for the country. As our men were away, the country had to keep up with their economy but due to less labor, the women stepped in to help. Well logic states that women are good at multitasking so I guess that this wasn't a big issue for the women to look after their house, kids, elders and earn for the family. Women who lost their husbands at the war ended up being independent and started earning for their own families as they had no choice. This war changed the role of women in our society and today it is visible in a wider context as women are able to do the same jobs as men. Some of the jobs that women did were located at mills and shops such as working with machines, repairing gas holes, shuffle coals that made gas, they basically did the hard, dirty and heavy lifting jobs and also worked at the hospital as nurses. They worked without any complains because they knew that they were doing this for their men at war and their family back at home. Some women also starting making ammunition, which was dangerous for them as they weren't familiar with the harmful chemicals and some weren't that strong to function heavy objects/ machines. Women weren't as dominant as men but they engaged with the system and became independent overtime. Those who relied on their men were now doing everything from house work to working at the mills/shops on their own.
In the absence of over 100,000 men overseas, women
were brought into the paid workforce.
A few of the women went to the war with the soldiers as nurses and helped from the hospital ship. Their job wasn't as easy as it may sound and this is proved by one of the nurse's diary below. These nurses worked from hospital ships and helped soldiers recover as rapidly as possible. A lot of young girls at that time went into the career of becoming nurses, not only to come to war and serve the nation but to help with the people back in New Zealand. The below quotes are of Australian nurses not New Zealand nurses but this is an idea of what the women faced at the actual war. These nurses helped the wounded soldiers and also helped with the common diseases that was being spread at that time such as dysentery, typhoid, skin problems and other deadly diseases.
''Every night there are two or three deaths, sometimes five or six; its just awful flying from one ward into another … each night is a nightmare, the patients’ faces all look so pale with the flickering ship’s lights.''
[Ella Tucker, in Bassett, Guns and Brooches, p.44]
''I shall never forget the awful feeling of hopelessness on night duty. It was dreadful. I had two wards downstairs, each over 100 patients and then I had small wards upstairs — altogether about 250 patients to look after, and one orderly and one Indian sweeper. Shall not describe their wounds, they were too awful. One loses sight of all the honour and the glory in the work we are doing.''
[Lydia King, in Goodman, Our War Nurses, p.39]
Along with the Australian nurses, New Zealand nurses like Evelyn Brooke went to help on the hospital war ships too. Evelyn Brooke was a well known nurse and matron who helped with the injuries and diseases at the war. The link below has more information about the nurses role at the war and also more details on Evelyn Brooke.
women at WWI
Gallipoli nurse cuddles a kitten that was born in the trenches