Women Combatants in World War I: A Russian Case Study

TitleWomen Combatants in World War I: A Russian Case Study
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsSowers, Susan R.
Academic DepartmentUSAWC Strategy Research Project.
Number of Pages82
Date Published2003/04/07
UniversityU.S. Army War College
CityCarlisle Barracks, PA

This paper demonstrates that WWI was the first modern era war, where women, in large populations, participated in the conduct of warfare. It compares the degree of utilization and the roles of women by four of the major powers in WWI: Britain, the United States, Germany, and Russia. While Britain, the U.S., and Germany allowed women to support the war in various degrees of uniformed integration, none of them armed their women nor located them dangerously close to combat. In general, women were used to supplement the manpower shortage and free able-bodied men to serve as combatants. Russia, however, stands apart from all other nations in its extraordinary use of women in combat. Focusing on Russia's great divergence from the popularly accepted norm that women should not be armed in war, the majority of the paper demonstrates the extent of Russia's use of women in combat roles superimposed on the political backdrop of WWI and the Russian Revolution. A strong emphasis is given to Maria Bochkareva and the infantry unit that she created during the Provisional Government period in 1917. [ResearchGate]

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