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Role of Women during the Winter War

The Role of Women

When the fathers and sons of Finland went to war, it was up to their families to maintain the home front. Women played a vital role in ensuring the jobs vacated due to men leaving for the front were filled, along with giving support to the soldiers on the front lines. The Lotta Svärd, a wartime organization, tended to the soldiers and organized the efforts of 100,000 women in support of the war effort.

Many Lotta Svärds served as:

Lookouts - High in windy places, Lottas kept watch for planes and military movements to alert the Finnish forces from village squares to towers. This was a very cold task with temperatures dropping to -45 degrees Celsius.

Lotta Svards work for the war effort.
Women sewing for the war effort. Finland Defence Forces Education Development Centre, Production Division - Photographic Section
Cooks and Nurses
- Many Lottas served on the frontline as cooks and nurses, providing food and tending to the soldiers. This was a full time job, many day jobs were followed by long nights of sewing for the troops and preparing them for the cold temperatures of the Finnish battlefields.

Writing Letters and Mail Delivery - Many soldiers were unable to write home to let their families know they were okay, especially if they were injured. Lottas were the link that connected soldiers to their loved ones on the home front. Lottas often drove mail to the front lines to ensure soldiers received words and encouragement from home.

Preparing the Dead - Many young Lottas were given the grim task of preparing the dead. The bodies were thawed, washed, dressed for burial and sent home for burial.