The last major war in Indonesia was the first time that the Netherlands sent women to serve in the military. During the Second World War, when many Dutch men were called up for the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labour in Nazi Germany), women took over the work they had done in the Netherlands. This drove a post-war wave of emancipation. The first women to serve in the military were not armed. As members of the women’s navy corps (Marine Vrouwen Afdeling, MARVA) or the ancillary women’s army corps (Vrouwen Hulpkorps van de Landmacht, VHK), they were mainly used for support activities. Under the slogan “free up a man for the fleet”, the MARVA women carried out administrative, communication and healthcare tasks. So while these women were not directly involved in the fighting, they did play a facilitating role.
‘Neemt dienst bij de Marva’s’. MARVA recruitment poster produced by Marine Voorlichtingsdienst (MARVO). 1946. Printer: James Haworth & Brother Ltd, London. Dimensions: 74.5 x 49 cm. Or. 27.832.