Pin It
Share this infographic on your site!

History of Women in War

Embed this infographic on your site!

History of Women in War

Women have been used in war all throughout history. Whether they carry a gun or bear a mans desire for them. Either of which are just as deadly. Their looks and beauty have been one of the most powerful weapons and with that, women have been used in wars forever, in every possible scenario.

Notable Figures

Below we've listed four historically important women who were involved in wars of one kind or another.

Helen of Sparta

  • 1194-1184 BC
  • Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta.
  • An entire war, which lasted 10 years, was fought over her.
  • Trojan War began
  • She is known as “the face that launched a thousand ships.”

David and Bathsheba

Circa 1005-965 B.C. - David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, bathing. He desired her and later got her pregnant. In an effort to conceal his sin, David summoned Uriah from the army in the hope that Uriah would re-consummate his marriage and think that the child was his. After repeated efforts to convince Uriah to have sex with Bathsheba, the king gave the order to his general, Joab, that Uriah should be placed in the front lines of the battle, where it was the most dangerous, and left to the hands of the enemy. (Source)


60 AD - Boudica's husband Prasutagus, left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor in his will. When he died, his will was ignored and the kingdom was annexed as if conquered. Boudica was flogged, her daughters were raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans. Boudica led the Iceni people, along with the Trinovantes and others, in revolt. (Source)

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

1527 AD - A religious war was triggered when Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, could not give him a baby boy and he left her for Anne Boleyn. All of England blamed Anne for the Church separations. (Source)

Women in WW2

Below we've listed some of the ways women were used in World War II.


  • Major combatants involved used pornography as part of their psychological operations (PSYOP) strategy.
  • Magazine editors were asked to depict women as coping heroically with the sacrifices of wartime.
  • Propagandists were instructed to convey the message that the person viewing the propaganda media stood to personally lose if he or she failed to contribute
  • Sex was used to get people excited about war and boost moral.
  • “Gives the men something to fight for”
  • It was believed that sex deprivation for soldiers was a leading cause of suicide.
(Source) This was a poster used to train pilots by helping them read the map grids which helped with distances and lengths.

Sex Slaves

  • During and after WW2 Japan had sex slaves for their soldiers.
  • Between 100,000 and 400,000 sex slaves
  • 90% came from Korea

Women involved in War - Timeline

1942 - Congress approves the bill to create the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.

1944 - More than 5,000 women serve in the Southwest Pacific region from 1944 - 1955.

1963 - Women began weapon training.

1965 - The first WAC officers are assigned to HQ, US Army, Vietnam.

1970 - President Nixon selects two women for promotion to brigadier general.

1973 - Army Chief of Staff approves Army flight training for WAC officers - both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft.

1974 - Sergeant Major Mildred C. Kelly is appointed Command Sergeant Major at HQ U.S. Army Proving Ground. She is the first black command sergeant major in the WAC.

1976 - Congress reduces the minimum enlistment age of women to the same as men - age 17 with parental consent, age 18 without consent. Twenty enlisted women enter the US Military Academy

1980 - Women now make up 9.1 percent of the Army.

1981 - The Army Freezes end strength of enlisted women at 65,000 and officers at 7,200.

1990 - Approximately 26, 000 women were deployed to the Persian Gulf.

1994 - Army Chief of Staff orders combined male-female basic training.

2003 - Total percentage of females in the Army is 15.2%, up from 9.8% in 1983.

2005 - Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, Kentucky Army National Guard becomes the first woman to earn the Silver Star for direct combat action.

2008 - Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the first female four-star general in military history

Limitations & The Necessities of War

The military has opened thousands of jobs to women in units that are closer to the front lines than ever before. But the rules still ban women from serving in the “most dangerous” combat jobs:

  • infantry
  • armor
  • special operations forces

In the past decade, the necessities of war propelled women into jobs such as:

  • medics
  • military police
  • intelligence officers

Female suicide rates in the Iraq war have been less than male suicide rates, undermining the notion that women aren't mentally strong enough for war.

  • Female suicide rate in Iraq is 15 per 100,000
  • Male suicide rates in Iraq is 21 per 100,000
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

war history