HomeWomen and the Liberation in Metropolitan France and the Empire, 1944-1946

HomeWomen and the Liberation in Metropolitan France and the Empire, 1944-1946

Women and the Liberation in Metropolitan France and the Empire, 1944-1946

Les femmes et la Libération en France (métropole et Empire), 1944-1946

*  *  *

Published on Friday, May 31, 2024


Organized by the Conseil scientifique et d'orientation de la Mission du 80ème anniversaire de la Libération, this conference focuses on the two or three years that make up the "moment" of the Liberation, from 1944 to 1946. Its aim is to examine the transformations that took place in women's lives and gender relations - in combat, in political life in the broadest sense and in their activities - in metropolitan France and the Empire. This international meeting will both review the current state of knowledge and highlight new aspects.



Since the publication in 1995 of the first issue of the journal Clio, Histoire, Femmes et Sociétés devoted to "Résistances et Libérations", there has been an accumulation of work, but the importance of the Liberation in the period known as the low point of the feminist wave is still little studied. Historiography has focused on the feminists and feminisms of the French Revolution, the long 19th century and the "second wave" (1970s onwards). The conference will provide an opportunity to examine the fighting capacities of women, both Resistance fighters and collaborators, to probe their involvement in politics as new voters in 1945 (including in the colonies and overseas departments) but also as workers or "housewives", and to appreciate their autonomy. In 1995, Françoise Thébaud asked: "Did women have a Liberation?” The general hypothesis put forward for discussion is that these three years or so represented a phase of openness for women, but that continuities remained strong.


Beyond the fundamental rupture constituted by the war, the Occupation and the period of fighting during the Liberation, to what extent did the three years 1944-1946 constitute a caesura, a moment of consensus and political and social conquests for women, before the Cold War crystallized ideological oppositions? The aim of this meeting is to explore as broadly as possible the history of women in metropolitan France and the Empire during this period, in terms of institutional, economic and social reforms, as well as changes in mores and representations.


The Liberation provided a window of opportunity for the feminization of the armed forces, with the creation of the AFAT and the women's army corps. This was also illustrated by the testimonial literature written by women members of the Resistance in 1944-1946, which was more hopeful than later accounts. The symposium will also provide an opportunity to take a fresh look at women's involvement at the time of the Liberation, at local, national and international levels. Women's involvement in the maquis, movements and networks on the one hand, but also that of female collaborators, whose political dimension has been highlighted by recent research.

As new voters, women in mainland France voted three times in 1945 and three more times in 1946. In the Empire, the application of the Ordinance of April 21, 1944 gave rise to debate and mobilization. To what extent do these elections make it possible to analyze women's opinions and verify, for example, whether, as the Radical Party feared, they voted for conservative parties? As for the women elected in 1945-1946, whose links with political parties could be examined, they have not yet been the subject of a systematic study.

Access to suffrage and eligibility went hand in hand with the restructuring of feminist organizations in the wake of the right to vote, which had been at the heart of their concerns since the end of the 19th century. What were the main demands made by women's and feminist movements in the past and during the Resistance? What connections did they have with the oldest international organizations, as well as with newly-created ones?

Economic and social rights

The Liberation also saw an attempt to equalize rights between men and women. The preamble to the 1946 Constitution guarantees the principle. A series of small steps were taken during this period, all of which deserve to be listed and examined carefully (approximation of salaries, elimination of the 10 % deduction for women's salaries, opening up of the diplomatic career to women, opening up of the ENA entrance examination, the magistrature, juries, etc.). At the international level, the creation of the UN and its Commission on the Status of Women in 1946 was another little-known milestone in the recognition of women's rights, as was their participation in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gender norms and representations

How did gender relations change in the aftermath of the war? Did the participation of women in the Resistance change them? How did the purge of female collaborators contribute to the re-establishment of the gender order after the "gender disorders" observed during the war? As women became full citizens, the political resonance of the peak of repression deserves to be examined. In a day-to-day world affected by shortages, and against a backdrop of lingering natalist concerns, it is also important to appreciate the injunctions to return to the home that weighed on women. For example, we could develop a gender analysis of the development of family allowances and the continuation of the single-wage allowance instituted in 1941. To what extent do these social protection measures, which discourage women from working, contribute to the re-establishment of male domination? What role, moreover, do women play in the economy of mourning and care in this still battered post-war society? With the number of divorces rising sharply in 1945 and 1946, how were divorced women and single women perceived?

How did cinema, literature and the press, particularly women's magazines such as Elle, which began publishing in 1945, portray gender relations during the Liberation? The women's press has been the subject of studies focusing on the 1968s, but studies of the immediate post-war period are rarer.

The second post-war period does not appear to have given rise to any new "Roaring Twenties". The Liberation was not the occasion, as the 1920s had been, for a certain liberation of homosexuality, nor did it call gender norms into question. But in the realm of mores in general, was it as conservative as it seems?

This symposium proposal is open. The questions raised here are only indicative and are intended to show the potential richness of the field of research.

Submission guidelines

Applications must be sent to the members of the organizing committee, claire.andrieu@sciencespo.fr, jlegac@parisnanterre.fr, fabien.lostec@bbox.fr, together with an argument of 250/350 words,

before July 10, 2024

Working language: French and English Format : in-person

Organizing committee

  • Claire Andrieu, Sciences Po, Paris,
  • Julie Le Gac, Université de Paris-Nanterre
  • Fabien Lostec, Université de Rennes 2

Scientific Advisory Board

  • Stéphane Albertelli, chercheur
  • Raphaële Balu, Université Paris 1 Christine Bard, Université d’Angers
  • Pascale Barthélémy, EHESS, Paris
  • Hanna Diamond, Cardiff University, UK
  • Camille Fauroux, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès
  • Thomas Fontaine, Musée de la Résistance nationale, Champigny
  • Antoine Grande, Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de la Haute-Garonne
  • Zoé Grumberg, Université du Mans
  • Laure Humbert, University of Manchester, UK
  • Catherine Lacour Astol, chercheure
  • Elissa Mailänder, Sciences Po, Paris
  • Claire Miot, Sciences Po Aix
  • Frédérique Neau-Dufour, chercheure
  • Renée Poznanski, Université Ben Gourion, Israël
  • Mary-Louise Roberts, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Fabrice Virgili, CNRS
  • Sylvie Zaidman. Musée de la Libération de Paris

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Wednesday, July 10, 2024


  • femme, genre, libération, seconde guerre mondiale, occupation, france, empire colonial, women, gender, resistance, world war II, colonial empire


  • Julie LE GAC
    courriel : jlegac [at] parisnanterre [dot] fr
  • Fabien LOSTEC
    courriel : fabien [dot] lostec [at] bbox [dot] fr

Information source

  • Claire ANDRIEU
    courriel : claire [dot] andrieu [at] sciencespo [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Women and the Liberation in Metropolitan France and the Empire, 1944-1946 », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 31, 2024, https://doi.org/10.58079/11r0h

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search