It’s one of the most iconic images of the Second World War.
J. Howard Miller’s poster of a woman in a red-and-white polka-dot headscarf and blue shirt, flexing her bicep beneath the phrase “We Can Do It!” was one of the most effective propaganda tools ever devised. It encouraged more women to join America’s wartime labour force. The woman in the poster soon got a name – ‘Rosie the Riveter’, who personified the strong female war production worker. The poster was based on a photo taken in 1942 of 20-year-old Naomi Parker, who was working in a machine shop at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California at the time.
Canada had its own Rosie. In 1941, the National Film Board visited a factory in Toronto to captured footage of the women working on the assembly line. One of the subjects of the movie was 21-year-old Veronica Foster, who was manufacturing Bren light machine guns at the plant. Foster became enormously popular after the film was released earning the nickname “Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl.” She was even featured on the front page of the New York Times a few months before America entered the war. By the time the conflict ended in 1945, more than one million Canadian women had been employed in the production of critical munitions and material needed for the war effort.
Without ‘Rosie the Riveter’ or ‘Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl,’ the Allies could not have won the war. October is Women’s History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women and girls across the country and throughout our history, including those tireless munitions workers, who built the planes, bullets and rifles for the Allied cause.
This week, minister of status of women Maryam Monsef announced that the 2018 theme #MakeAnImpact, in honour of the women and girls who’ve made a lasting impact as pioneers in their field. Whether as business leaders, politicians, researchers, artists or activists, Monsef says these women of impact have helped shape Canada into a thriving, diverse and prosperous country through their achievements and desire to make a difference.
A key highlight of this year’s celebrations is the Women of Impact in Canada, an online gallery that celebrates the achievements of more than 100 women and girls through photos and biographies that capture some of their many successes. The gallery is an educational resource, an introduction to the lives of these remarkable women, and a starting point for further discovery. Learn more about their contributions by exploring the gallery’s interactive map and timelines, as well as the Learning Toolkit.
Do you know a woman of impact? Share her story using the hashtag #MakeAnImpact and tell us about the women and girls making an impact in your community. Check it out !