Women and War in the British Empire


This provocation stimulates reflection on the Eurocentricity of Second World War histories and reflects on how new work can extend the boundaries of the subjects of the war. It argues that women in the British Empire were affected by the war in ways which have, thus far, been under-appreciated.


As war histories of Europe in the First and the Second World Wars have long shown, warfare had ambivalent effects on gender relations. It is a contradictory story. On the one hand, wartime delivered opportunities: for working; for employment and paid work; for the provision of childcare; for the camaraderie of military or civilian employment; for the transgression of sexual and social norms. The gender boundary between paid work, work in the armed forces, and civilian status was blurred. It also delivered a casus belli for the campaign for women’s enfranchisement and political empowerment with French women finally achieving enfranchisement in 1944.

Full Reference

Yasmin Khan (2020) Women and War in the British Empire, War & Society, 39:3, 227-231, DOI: 10.1080/07292473.2020.1786894