Women in the weapons industry

Women in the weapons industry

In August 1914, 1.5 million French troops were mobilised. They left the fields and emptied the factories and to fill in the gap, women went to work in the plants and arsenals.

Labour requirements in the weapons and munitions were such that the industry had to quickly train the women who were being massively recruited. In addition to learning a job, these housewives and mothers had to adapt to harsh working conditions which included carrying heavy loads.

The manufacturers had to find a solution for the new social context and some of them built nurseries and child-care centres within the factory.

Workers nicknamed “munitionnettes” made mortar shells in factories that had been converted to make weapons such as Citroën, whose workforce in 1918 was 60% female.

In the automotive industry, where labour requirements were high, the percentage of women ranged from 20% at Panhard & Levassor and Berliet to 30% at Renault.

For further information...

Article : Ministère des armées, Le rôle des femmes dans l’industrie de la Grande Guerre [on-line], available on : https://www.defense.gouv.fr/actualites/articles/special-verdun-2016-le-role-des-femmes-dans-l-industriede-la-grande-guerre