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Is it necessary to put "des" in the sentence if it translates "We are women"?
Yes. You are saying "We are of the woman". Like, we are of the woman gender.
Please have a look at this link about contracted articles: "du", "de la", "de l'", "des", and "de":
In this case "Nous sommes des femmes.", the plural indefinite article des refers to more than one countable person in an indefinite sense.
This shouldn't be marked down. Some portions of language involve rote memorization. This is the way French does it, and we're here to learn.
In this sentence, "femmes" does not translate to "wives", because it does not make real sense.
You could say: "Nous sommes les femmes de ces hommes.", which translates to: "We are these men's wives."
I completely disagree. "We are wives" is a perfectly logical sentence. At a conference, as a number of women boad a bus, a person asks one woman why they are getting on the bus, and she says "we are wives" (ture story). It was in China, and they were going sightseeing for a day while their husbands had meetings. Either way, "we are wives" should be accepted.