In World War II, propaganda was crucial in boosting the war effort in Britain through recruiting people into the army and volunteer groups. World War II particularly increased the importance of the role of women in Britain, as much of the propaganda focused on recruiting women into working roles in society, which had not been available to them before. This was performed through the use of posters and speeches specifically used to prompt women into participating in the war effort. This poster from the Women’s Land Army shows a clear example of the type of posters used in World War II that targeted women, depicting them in masculine positions to encourage their participation.
Propaganda was often used to encourage women to enrol in volunteer groups, such as the Women’s Land Army and Air Raid Precautions, in order to help out with the war effort while much of the male population were away fighting. The Women’s Land Army played a crucial role in the war as it helped to relieve the burden in the scarcity of food, which was due to a lack of supplies in the war, by working on the land growing crops. They performed typically male duties such as milking cows, lambing, managing poultry, ploughing, gathering crops, digging ditches, catching rats, chopping trees and running saw mills. As well as posters words from distinguished members of the public were used as propaganda to encourage volunteers; for example this quote from Lady Denman stating ‘The land army fights in the fields. It is in the fields of Britain that the most critical battle of the present war may well be fought and won’.  By 1943 there were more than 80,000 ‘Land Girls’ showing the extent of women targeted by the propaganda.
Air Raid Precautions played an equally important role with women who were perceived as the primary potential victims of air raids this meant they were encouraged to take responsibility for defending the home and its occupants in ways ranging from teaching children how to use gas masks, to evacuation and membership of the Air Raid Warden’s Service. They were recruited into the volunteer group through the use of speeches written specifically to target women. This is notably shown through a powerfully emotive speech published by the A.R.P, illustrating the techniques used to recruit women, such as playing on their fear by stating ‘the raiders won’t give you time to train’ and using imperative phrases such as ‘enrol at once’. Furthermore the use of strong emotive language aims to target their protective nurturing sides, which would encourage them to enrol. However, this involvement of women in civil defence had the potential to create an image of ARP as a feminized service, undermining both the appeal of ARP to men, and the masculinity of men in the service, an identity already threatened through them not fighting on the frontline.
Women were not only recruited into volunteer working roles, but also fully paid employment, which was unusual for the time. Jobs such as factory workers, nurses, receptionists, bus drivers and even clerical positions became available to women. By mid-1943, almost 90 per cent of single women and 80 per cent of married women were employed in essential work for the war effort. The success of the propaganda in World War II is highlighted by a huge rise in working women during the war, which is illustrated in this graph comparing the number of women in factory and clerical positions in 1940 compared to 1945. The graph shows that by 1945 there were 4.5 million women in clerical positions, an overall increase of 89 per cent from 1940 and illustrates that by 1945 there were 4.7 million women in factory positions an increase of 112 per cent from 1940. 
The success of the posters and speeches used as propaganda in World War II increased the opportunities and status of women in society through the establishment of groups such as the Land Army specifically aimed at women and by increasing the number of working roles available to them, many of which were typically masculine. This has been demonstrated by the vast number of women involved in volunteer groups during the war and the increase of women in working roles by 1945.
 WW2 People’s War: BBC Fact File 25/03/14
 © 2013 Women’s Land Army.co.uk 12/02/14
 WW2 People’s War: BBC Fact File 25/03/14
 Carol Harris, Women Under Fire in World War Two, 17-02-2011. 11/02/14
 Mary M. Schweitzer, ‘World War II and Female Labor Force Participation Rates’, The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 40, No. 1 (1980), pp. 89-95
Noakes, Lucy ‘Serve to Save’: Gender, Citizenship and Civil Defence in Britain 1937-41″ Journal of Contemporary History, vol 47, (2012), p737.