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A Lesson From History: WWII and Fighting to Keep Women From Slavery

by The Editors

The war in Afghanistan is not the first U.S. war in which the ill-treatment of women was used to stoke the fire for war support at home. The New York Times on April 18, 1943, reported on President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution in Cincinnati just the day before.

The headline was straightforward: “PRESIDENT ASKS AID OF WOMEN IN WAR.” And the message was underscored by a sub-head that hit squarely on the themes of President Roosevelt’s speech: “Message to D.A.R. in Cincinnati Stressed Policy of Axis in Degrading, Enslaving Them.” The Times then reported:

CINCINNATI, April 17 (U.P.) – American women must take an ever-increasing part
in production of arms to smash the Axis because "in a profound sense, it is a women's war," President Roosevelt said in a message tonight to the congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"It is a women's war, first, because we have never before faced an enemy whose pronounced policy has been the degradation of womanhood, whose ultimate design is to build a world where women everywhere will be slaves," Mr. Roosevelt said.

“In shops and in offices, in factories and on farms, women are doing men's jobs, that men may be free to do the supreme job of beating the Axis," President Roosevelt said.

"Women have played heroic roles in every crisis of our history, but no other crisis has so deeply threatened their freedom, or so urgently demanded their strength."

Mrs. William H. Pouch, president general, urged the delegates to follow the example of Mme. Chiang Kai-shek to "bring us all through this black period of strife."

"Our sacrifices have scarce begun," Mrs. Pouch said, "but we shall meet them with equal fortitude."

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Special thanks to David M. Dismore for archival research.

Also see: DEBRA SWEET in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See: PAM McALLISTER in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


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