Milicianas fought in the Spanish Civil War. They came from a culture with iconic fighters, and where women had been recently empowered through direct political engagement in political organizations and labor unions. The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera saw women take more to the streets to protest and riot, though their actions were dismissed by male political leaders. The creation of the Second Spanish Republic led to an environment encouraging active political participation in broader Spanish society, and ultimately served to assist many women in their decision to head to the front, as the Government expanded rights for women, including the right to vote, divorce, go to school and stand for election.
The Asturian miners' strike ofthree years into the Republic's history, saw women mobilized on a battlefront where they defended the rights of striking miners. This created paranoia on the right that women would take up arms and dispense with male leadership. Two years later, the Spanish Civil War started in Melilla and soon expanded nationwide.
Women rose up to defend the Republic, playing a critical role in making the war a protracted affair. The start of the Civil War saw women mobilized in militias affiliated with unions and political organizations, with over 1, women ing up in the opening months to serve on the front lines of the Republican side. Unlike men, women actively sought out this choice.
Communists and anarchists would make up the bulk of women on the front. Women also came from abroad to fight in the International Brigades. On the front, women served alongside men in mostly mixed-gendered battalions, and were transferred around Spain. Despite a desire for combat, some of those in male leadership positions made them serve in support roles. Women were killed and injured on the front. They were on the front from July to Marchwhen they were officially demobilized.
This decision was made by male political and military leaders, who were threatened by their presence. The decision was opposed by the women themselves. The valuable contributions of Republican women fighters has been under reported, and women's own stories have frequently been ignored. This was a result of sexism, women fearing torture and death, and lack of primary sources.
While women had been sporadically involved in combat in Spain, no large organized force of female fighters Spanish : miliciana had been mobilized in the prelude to the Second Republic. Still, this period would start to set the stage for women's later involvement. Women continued to be locked out politically, and created auxiliary organizations to male dominated ones in order to be politically engaged in ideologies like socialism and anarchism.
Depending on the level of acceptance from these groups and unions, women moderated their voices accordingly. As a consequence, when the Civil War came, anarchist women headed to the front lines in greater s than socialist women, as their political involvement was greater and more direct. When political activity occurred by women during the Dictatorship of Primo de Riverait was often spontaneous. Despite an increasing presence on the streets, women were often ignored by left-wing male political leaders who purported to support their cause.
Despite this, women were increasingly involved in riots and protests, representing increased political awareness of their need to be more active in social and political spheres to enact change to improve their lives. Their participation politically though did not yet involve taking up arms against or in support of the government.
The abdication of Spain's king in would spell the end of the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Riveraand usher in the era of the Second Republic. The rights women attained under the constitution of the Second Republic played a role in encouraging active participation in broader Spanish society, and ultimately served to assist many women in their decision later to head to the front.
The first elections in the Second Republic saw three women elected to office, before women had achieved the right to vote. The Second Republic also heralded in a period of the creation of numerous women's political organizations across the political spectrum all around Spain.
It soon attracted women from across the political spectrum. Women played roles behind the scenes in one of the first major conflicts of the Second Republic, when workers' militias seized control of the mines in Asturias.
After the government quelled the insurrection by bringing in Moroccan legionaries, some 30, people found themselves in prison and another 1, were put into graves. A large of those put into prison were women.
During fighting in Oviedowomen were on the battlefield serving in a variety of roles. At least one attended to the wounded while shelling went on around her. Others took up arms. Still more went from leftist position to leftist position with active shelling happening, providing fighters with food and motivational speeches.
The Asturian conflict saw few instances of women initiated violence. This fed into paranoia among those on the right that women would violently try to seize power from men. Both on the left and the right, people viewed these women as heroic, and men wanted to limit their potential for further political action.
For many women, this was the first time they were civically engaged without a male chaperone as in many cases these women were working on behalf of imprisoned male relatives. More recently, academics have debated if the Asturian miners' strike represented the real start of the Spanish Civil War. This was done by male leadership with the intention of counteracting the image of strong women political leaders, who unnerved many on the right.
Right wing propaganda at the time featured women as vicious killers, who defied gender norms to eliminate the idea of Spanish motherhood.
They believed they would have an easy victory. They failed to predict the people's attachment to the Second Republic.
With the Republic largely maintaining control over its Navy, Franco and others in Local Sluts La Dolores PR military successfully convinced Adolf Hitler to provide transport for Spanish troops from North Africa to the Iberian peninsula. These actions led to a divided Spain, and the protracted events of the Spanish Civil War. The military revolt was announced on the radio across the country, and people took to the streets immediately as they tried to determine the extent of the situation, and if it was a military or political conflict. Representing working-class people, they set out to prevent the Nationalists from seizing control while also serving as reforming influences inside Spain.
Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union ed the Non-Intervention Treaty in Augustpromising not to provide material support for the war to any of the parties, even as Germany and Italy were already and continued to provide support to the Nationalist faction. Because of changes in society, women who wanted to be involved in the war against the Rebel forces had two options: they could fight on the front lines or they could serve in auxiliary roles away from the front. Their options were not limited, like that of many women near the battlefields of World War Iwhere the only available role was that of auxiliary role to support men on the front.
From there, the group would play a prominent role in sending and supporting women on the front lines in the war. One of the most important mass mobilizations of women in Spain's history was their participation on the anti-Nationalist front. Most of the militias that were created during the immediate outbreak of the Civil War came from civil society groups like trade unions and political parties. Most ed in order to further support political ideologies they supported.
These militias often lacked the typical military structure in order to better represent their ideologies and better mobilize local populations.
Women were not actively recruited to serve in militias. Rather, they actively sought out places to enlist.
Unlike men, women had the choice to fight and made that choice. Their efforts were often difficult, as many militias rejected them on basis of their gender, and they were constantly asked to prove themselves more than men on front.
In the last days of Republican control of Madrid, she implored both men and women to take to arms against Nationalist forces in the city. At most, probably 1, women fought on the front lines, while several thousand served in city defense. The latter included a women's only battalion that served in Madrid.
Communists and anarchists columns attracted the most women among all the political groups on the Republican front. POUM attracted women fighters, but in smaller s. The idea was too radical for them, and they believed women should serve as heroes at home, providing support to civilian populations well behind the front lines.
Women who were members of PSOE who found their way to combat did so by ing communist and socialist youth groups. Women also came from abroad to fight as part of the International Brigadeswith their total s documented at between and women. Many women first traveled to Paris, before going by boat or train to fight. When they sometimes agreed to send determined women to Spain, it was often in support roles as reporters or propagandists. The party apparatus in Spain then actively worked to keep women away from the front.
With Nationalist forces overrunning her position, the unit commander chose to commit suicide rather than to surrender at a battle in Guadix. With Nationalist forces threatening her with the potential of being raped by Moorish soldiers if she is does not surrender, Republicans were able to cast her as an innocent who chose death rather than to be debased and lose her honor.
Falangist propaganda said there was never there and there was never a threat of rape. On the front, the norm was for women to serve in mixed gender battalion units. Women on the front often were faced with a duel burden of being expected to fight and to provide auxiliary support.
Most women on the front served in militias aligned with some political group. A very small served as members of the regular Republican army. Most of these gave women equal roles when it came to combat, and providing the same military contribution. This sometimes put them in more harms way, as some women militia members were shot while tending to injured comrades in battle. Women who had to deal with this situation included Josefa Rionda. Captains might also divert women on the battlefield to hospitals, where they expected them to work alongside nurses.
A of these women left those columns, seeking other units where they could serve in combat. Some Jewish, Polish and American women did go to Spain, and did serve in combat. They were actively discouraged from doing so by anarchists, and outright banned from doing so by communists. Combat experience did not ificantly differ based on the political affiliation of the battalion that women in combat were attached to. Many also received specialized training in the use of machine guns. The lack of weapons training by women in other militias would later be used as a reason to try to remove them from the front, even as those militias also failed to prove their male recruits with weapons training.
These women also came from across the leftist political spectrum.