282,789 Pages

Recent history of changes in women's roles by country.

Africa[edit | edit source]

Eritrea[edit | edit source]

Female soldiers in Eritrea played a large role in both the Eritrean civil war and the border dispute with Ethiopia, because they make up more than 30% of the Eritrean military. They also serve in direct combat operations.[citation needed]

Libya[edit | edit source]

A 200-strong unit was Muammar al-Gaddafi's personal bodyguard and is called variously the "Green Nuns" and "The Amazonian Guard" or more commonly in Libya The Revolutionary Nuns (Arabic language: الراهبات الثوريات‎) .[1]

The Gambia[edit | edit source]

Military of The Gambia have no gender conscription and women are free to volunteer for the armed forces. In 2011 the first female army general was decorated. The Gambia.[2]

Asia and Oceania[edit | edit source]

Australia[edit | edit source]

Wing Commander Linda Corbould, the first woman to command a Royal Australian Air Force flying squadron, training in a USAF C-17 Globemaster III

The first women became involved with the Australian armed forces with the creation of the Army Nursing Service in 1899. Currently, women make up 12.8% of the Australian Defence Force (with 15.1% in the Royal Australian Air Force, 14.6% in the Royal Australian Navy and 10.5% in the Australian Army) and 17.5% of the reserves.[3] However, only 74% of the total number of available roles in the Australian armed forces are available to women. Despite this, using 1998-99 figures, the ADF had the highest percentage of women in its employ in the world.[4] In 1998, Australia became the fourth nation in the world to allow women to serve on its submarines.

Like many other countries, Australia does not currently permit women to serve in the following military positions involving 'direct combat', as defined by the 1983 Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

Women can serve in combat units or at times in combat, but they currently cannot serve in combat roles in combat units. So whilst a woman could not be an Royal Australian Armored Corps Driver/Signaller in an Armored unit such as 2 Cav Regt, they could serve as medic, storeman, RAEME tradesperson in 2 Cav Regt. Women in such roles undertake the same training and undertake the same jobs as their male counterparts. For example women medics were deployed to 5/7 RAR company patrol bases as part of the INTERFET force in East Timor.In 1975, women did train as Radio Operators with Royal Australian Signals Corps, of which a few served in 2 Sig Regt, which is a Field Force Unit.

Health and safety reasons also exclude women from surface finishing and electroplating within the Air Force due to the use of embryo-toxic substances. Australia was the fourth country to permit female crew on submarines, doing so in June 1998 on board Collins class submarines. Australia's first deployment of female sailors in a combat zone was aboard HMAS Westralia in the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War.

On 27 September 2011, Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced that women will be allowed to serve in frontline combat roles by 2016.[5]

In 1992, allegations of alleged sexual harassment on board HMAS Swan were investigated, and in 1998 similar allegations arose in the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Israeli military police women (2007)

Democratic People's Republic of Korea[edit | edit source]

The DPRK allows women to serve in combat roles.

Israel[edit | edit source]

Some women served in various positions in the IDF, including infantry, radio operators and transport pilots in the 1948 war of independence and "Operation Kadesh" in 1956, but later the Air Force closed its ranks to female pilots, and women were restricted from combat positions. There is a draft of both men and women. Most women serve in non-combat positions, and are conscripted for two years (instead of three for men). A landmark high court appeal in 1994 forced the Air Force to accept women air cadets. In 2001, Israel's first female combat pilot received her wings. In 1999 the Caracal company was formed, as a non segregated infantry company. In 2000 it was expanded into a Battalion (called The 33rd, for the 33 women killed in combat during the War of Independence) since then, further combat positions have opened to women, including Artillery, Field Intelligence, Search and Rescue, NBC, Border Patrol, K-9 Unit and anti-aircraft warfare.

On May 26, 2011, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz announced Brigadier General Orna Barbivay's appointment as the next Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate. Barbivay was promoted to Major General, thus becoming the most senior female officer in the history of the IDF.

Nepal[edit | edit source]

It is worth noting that Peoples Liberation Army, a guerrilla army fighting the government, have a 30% female participation quota for their combat forces, and frequently claim 40% actual participation.[6] A proposal of a 40% female combat troop quota in the future Nepal Army has been frequently forwarded publicly by Maoist leaders during their peace negotiations with the current government.

New Zealand[edit | edit source]

New Zealand has no restrictions on roles for women in its defence force. They are able to serve in the Special Air Service, infantry, armour and artillery. This came into effect in 2001 by subordinate legislation. Though, no woman has ever made it into the Special Air Service.

Pakistan[edit | edit source]

People's Republic of China[edit | edit source]

Women have long served in armies dating from the ancient period of 5,000 years ago to present day. Female comprise an estimated 7.5% of the People's Liberation Army forces.[7]

Singapore[edit | edit source]

Singapore allows women to serve in combat roles, although females are not conscripted.

Sri Lanka[edit | edit source]

Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) was the first service of the Sri Lankan military to allow women to serve, accepting female recruits to the Sri Lanka Volunteer Air Force in 1972. The Sri Lanka Army followed in 1979 with the establishment of the Sri Lanka Army Women's Corps (SLAWC). Since then, each service has for both administrative and practical reasons maintained separate units for women. These are the SLAWC and the SLAF Women's Wing; the Sri Lanka Navy does not have a specific name for women's units. In order to maintain discipline, all three services have women MPs attached to their respective military police/provost corps.

Currently, female personnel of all three services play an active part in ongoing operations. However, there are certain limitations in 'direct combat' duties such as special forces, pilot branch, naval fast attack squadrons. These are only a few restrictions; female personnel have been tasked with many front line duties and attached to combat units such as paratroops, SLAF Regiment, as well as undertaken support services such as control tower operators, electronic warfare technicians, radio material teletypewriters, automotive mechanics, aviation supply personnel, cryptographers, doctors, combat medics, lawyers, engineers and aerial photographers. In the Sri Lanka Navy female personnel were at first limited to the medical branch, however currently both lady officers and female rates are able to join any branch of service including the executive branch. With the escalation of the Sri Lankan civil war, many female personnel have come under enemy fire both directly and indirectly thus taking many casualties including fatalities. As of 2008 there were three female officers of the rank of Major General and one Commodore.

The Sri Lanka Civil Defence Force, formerly the Sri Lanka Home Guard, has been open to women recruits since 1988. In 1993, these guardswomen were issued firearms and deployed to protect their home towns and villages against attacks by LTTE. As a result, there have been many casualties (including fatalities) from attacks.

Thailand[edit | edit source]

Thailand has recently begun recruiting and training women to conduct counter-insurgency operations.[8] A ranger commander said that when women are protesting, "It is better for women to do the talking. Male soldiers look tough and aggressive. When women go and talk, people tend to be more relaxed".

Europe[edit | edit source]

Denmark[edit | edit source]

Women were employed in the Danish armed forces as early as 1934 with the Ground Observer Corps, Danish Women’s Army Corps and Naval Corps in 1946 and the Women’s Air Force since 1953. In 1962, the Danish parliament passed laws allowing women to volunteer in the regular Danish armed forces as long as they did not serve in units experiencing direct combat. 1971 saw the enlistment of women as non-commissioned officers, with military academies allowing women in 1974.

In 1978, based on the reports of studies on the topic, women were allowed to enlist in an all areas of the Danish armed forces, with combat trials in the eighties exploring the capabilities of women in combat. In 1998, laws were passed allowing women to sample military life in the same way as conscripted men, however without being completely open to conscription. Women in the Danish military come under the command of the Chief of Defense.[9] As of January 2010, women make up 5% of the army, 6.9% of the navy, and 8.6% of air force personnel.

Finland[edit | edit source]

Red Guard during the Finnish Civil War

The Finnish Defense Forces does not conscript women. However, since 1995, women between 18 and 30 years of age have the possibility of voluntarily undertaking military service in the Defence Forces or in the Border Guard. Women generally serve under the same conditions as men.

Members of Lotta Svärd in air control duty during the Continuation War

The history of women in the Finnish military is, however, far longer than just since 1995. During the Finnish Civil War, the Reds had several Naiskaarti (Women's Guard) units made of voluntary 16 to 35 year old women, who were given rudimentary military training. The reactions on women in military were ambivalent during the Civil War.

The non-combat duties in Finnish Defence Forces peace-keeping operations opened to women in 1991. Since 1995 the women are allowed to serve in all combat arms including front-line infantry and special forces both in Finland and in operations outside Finland.

France[edit | edit source]

A Cantinière with a male infantry soldier in Algeria, around 1845. Painting by Edouard Moreau.


A female member of the French Navy operates a transmitter at a coastal radiotelegraphy station, Saint-Mandrier-sur-mer, during the Second World War.

In the 1800s, women in the French military were responsible for preparing meals for soldiers, and were called cantinières. They sold food to soldiers beyond that which was given to them as rations. Cantinières had commissions from the administrators of the regiments, and they were required to be married to a soldier of the regiment. They served near the front lines on active campaigns, and some served for as long as 30 years.[10]

The role of women in the French military grew in 1914 with the recruitment of women as medical personnel (Service de Santé des Armées). In 1939, they were authorized to enlist with the armed service branches, and in 1972 their status evolved to share the same ranks as those of men. Nonetheless, women are still not permitted to join the field combat units or to be aboard the submarines of the French navy.

Valérie André, a neurosurgeon, became the first woman in France to attain the rank of three-star general as Médecin Général Inspecteur. A veteran of the French Resistance, she served overseas in Indochina. During that period, she learned how to pilot a helicopter so that she could reach wounded soldiers who were trapped in the jungle. André is the first woman to have flown a helicopter in combat. She received many decorations for her achievements, including the highest rank of the Legion of Honour. She retired from active service in 1981.

Today women make up around 15% of all service personnel in the combined branches of the French military. They are 11% of the Army forces, 13% for the Navy, 21% of the Air Force and 50% of the Medical Corps. This is the highest proportion of female personnel in Europe.[11]

Germany[edit | edit source]

Since the creation of the Bundeswehr in 1955, Germany had employed one of the most conservative gender-policies of any NATO country.[citation needed] That was generally regarded as a reaction to the deployment of young women at the end of World War II. Though women were exempt from direct combat functions in accordance with Nazi-ideology, several hundred thousand German women, along with young boys and sometimes girls (as Flakhelfer), served in Luftwaffe artillery units; their flak shot down thousands of Allied warplanes.[12]

In the year 1975 the first female medical officers were appointed in the Sanitätsdienst of the Bundeswehr. Since 1994, two women, Verena von Weymarn and Erika Franke, attained the rank of Generalarzt. But it was not until January 2001 that women first joined German combat units, following a court ruling by the European Court of Justice.

There are no restrictions regarding the branch of service, and there are women serving in the Fallschirmjäger, aboard U-Boats[13] and Tornado fighter planes.

Ireland[edit | edit source]

The Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1979, allowed women to join the Irish Defence Forces for the first time and was passed by the Oireachtas in 1979.[14] There are no restrictions for women to the "full range of operational and administrative duties."[15] As of January 2010 the number of women in the Permanent Defence Forces is 565, 5.7 percent of the total.[16]

Norway[edit | edit source]

Women in Norway have been able to fill military roles since 1938, and during the Second World War both enlisted women and female officers served in all branches of the military. However in 1947 political changes commanded that women only serve in civilian posts, with reservists allowing women to join them in 1959. Female personnel currently make up around 7% of the army.[17]

Between 1977 and 1984, the Norwegian Parliament passed laws expanding the role of women in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and in 1985 equal opportunities legislation was applied to the military.

In 1995, Norway became the first country to allow women to serve on its military submarines, and to this date there has been at least one female commander of a Norwegian submarine.[18] The first was Solveig Krey in 1995.[19]

From 2009 all female citizens are obligated to meet for the conscription board, examining and classification just like men, but the national service is voluntary.[20] The Parliament of Norway plans conscription for women on equal terms with men in 2015.[21][22]

Poland[edit | edit source]

Polish female volunteers during the Polish-Soviet War

Women have taken part in the battles for independence against occupiers and invaders since at least the time of the Napoleonic Wars. During the occupation by the Nazis, 1939–1945, several thousand women took part in the resistance movement as members of the Home Army. The Germans were forced to establish special prisoner-of-war camps after the Warsaw Rising in 1944 to accommodate over a thousand women prisoners.[23]

In April 1938 the law requiring compulsory military service for men included provisions for voluntary service of women in auxiliary roles, in the medical services, in the anti-aircraft artillery and in communications. In 1939 a Women's Military Training Organization was established under the command of Maria Wittek.

In present Poland a law passed April 6, 2004 requires all women with college nursing or veterinary degrees to register for compulsory service. In addition it allows women to volunteer and serve as professional personnel in all services of the army. As of June 30, 2007 there are 800 women in the army, of which 471 are officers, 308 non-commissioned officers and 21 other ranks, in addition 225 are in military training schools. Two active duty Polish women have achieved the rank of Colonel. Maria Wittek was the 1st Polish woman to reach the rank of General.[24][25]

File:Regiment from Petrograd.jpg

1st Petrograd Women's Battalion (1918)

Russia[edit | edit source]

During the First World War, heavy defeats led to the loss of millions of Russian Imperial soldiers. To psychologically energize morale Alexander Kerensky (leader of Russia of the Russian Provisional Government) ordered the creation of the Woman’s Death Battalion in May 1917. After three months of fighting, the size of this all-female unit fell from 2,000 to 250.[26] In November 1917, the Bolsheviks dissolved the unit. Shortly after Russia became part of the Soviet Union (see above for the role of woman in Soviet military) till December 1991.

The current tally of woman in the Russian Army is standing at around 115,000 to 160,000, representing 10% of Russia’s military strength.

The Russian army runs the Miss Russian Army beauty contest for attractive female Russian soldiers. Colonel Gennady Dzyuba, of the Defense Ministry, said of the 2005 contest that "Those who have served, especially in hot spots, know the importance of women in the armed forces.”

Serbia[edit | edit source]

Although the Serbian armed forces were traditionally exclusively male (with exception of nurses and some other non-combat roles) there were some exceptions. Several women are known to have fought in the ranks in the Balkan Wars and the First World War, often by initially hiding their gender to work around the draft regulations. The most notable of them was Milunka Savić, the most decorated female combatant in history. In the Second World War Yugoslav partisan units accepted female volunteers as combatants as well as medical personnel. After the war the practice was abandoned, but was reintroduced recently with professionalisation of the army.

Sweden[edit | edit source]

Since 1989 there are no gender restrictions in the Swedish military on access to military training or positions. They are allowed to serve in all parts of the military and in all positions, including combat.[27] Female personnel currently make up around 5% of the army.[17]

Turkey[edit | edit source]

When Turkish history is examined, it is apparent that Turkish women have voluntarily taken tasks in the defence of their country, showing the same power and courage as men. Nene Hatun, whose monument has been erected in the city of Erzurum (Eastern Turkey) because of her gallant bravery during the Ottoman-Russian War, constitutes a very good example of this fact. Furthermore, the Independence War has taken its place in history with the unsurpassed heroism of Turkish women.[28] Sabiha Gökçen was the first female combat pilot in the world, as well as the first Turkish female aviator. She was one of the eight adoptive children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Throughout her career in the Turkish Air Force, Gökçen flew 22 different types of aircraft for more than 8,000 hours, 32 hours of which were active combat and bombardment missions. She was selected as the only female pilot for the poster of "20 Greatest Aviators in History" published by the United States Air Force in 1996.[29]

Women personnel are being employed as officers in the Turkish Armed Forces today. The women officers serve together with the men under the same respective chains of command. The personnel policy regarding women in the Turkish Armed Forces is based on the principle of "needing qualified women officers in suitable branches and ranks" to keep pace with technological advancements in the 21st century. Women civilian personnel have been assigned to the headquarters staff, technical fields, and social services without sexual discrimination. Women officers serve in all branches except armor, infantry, and submarines. Assignments, promotions and training are considered on an equal basis with no gender bias.[28]

As of the year 2005, the number of the female officers and NCOs in the Turkish Armed Forces is 1245.[30]

Ukraine[edit | edit source]

Olena Stepaniv of the Sich Riflemen II women's auxiliary subunit

Women (on active duty) make almost 13% of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (18.000 persons);[17] 7% of those are officers.[31] This number is close to NATO armies statistics. Ukraine shows better results in military gender equality than countries like Norway (7%), United Kingdom (9%) or Sweden (5%). There are few female high officers, 2,9% (1.202 women).[17] There are no females among Ukraine’s generals while there are a dozen female colonels.[31] Contractual military service counts for almost 44% of women.[17] However, this is closely linked to the low salary of such positions: men refuse to serve in these conditions when women accept them.[17][31] In total about 25 percent of Ukraine’s 200,000 military personnel are women.[31]

Servicewomen live in woman-only apartments near the military bases.[31] A female officer can take three years’ maternity leave without losing her position.[32]

United Kingdom[edit | edit source]

Women were first employed by the Royal Navy in 1696 when a handful were employed as nurses and laundresses on hospital ships.[33] They received pay equal to an able seaman.[33] The practice was always controversial and over the next two centuries first the nurses and the laundresses were removed from service.[33] By the start of the 19th century both roles had been eliminated.[33] Female service in the Royal Navy restarted 1884 when the Naval Nursing Service was formed. It became the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service in 1902 and is still in operation. Women have had active roles in the British Army since 1902, when the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps was founded. The Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service was formed in 1918. During the Second World War, about 600,000 women served in the three British women's auxiliary services: the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and the Women's Royal Naval Service, as well as the nursing corps.[34] From 1949 to 1992, thousands more served in the Women's Royal Army Corps and sister institutions. After 1992, the women were integrated into regular units.[35]

Queen Boudica, who led warriors of the Iceni tribe against Roman forces occupying Britain around AD 62, is often cited in support of arguments calling for the full opening up of the British Armed forces to women. In 1917, the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps was formed; 47,000 women served until it was disbanded in 1921. The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was formed in 1917 as well. Before it disbanded in 1919, it provided catering and administrative support, communications and electrician personnel.

File:ATS Search Light.jpg

ATS Searchlight Unit in the Second World War

In 1938, the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) was created, with 20,000 women serving in non-combat roles during the conflict as well as serving as military police and in combat roles as anti-aircraft gunners. In 1949, women were officially recognized as a permanent part of British Armed forces, although full combat roles were still restricted to men. In this year, the Women's Royal Army Corps was created to replace the ATS and in 1950 the ranks were normalised with the ranks of men serving in the British Army.

Women first became eligible to pilot Royal Air Force combat aircraft in 1989.[36] The following year, they were permitted to serve on Royal Navy warships.[36]

The 1991 Gulf War marked the first deployment of British women in combat operations since 1945.

The seizure of Royal Navy sailor Faye Turney in 2007 by the naval forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard led to some media comment on the role of women and mothers in the armed forces.[37]

Women may now join the British Armed forces in all roles except those whose "primary duty is to close with and kill the enemy": Infantry, Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Marines Commandos, RAF Regiment, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service. Women were once excluded from service in the Royal Navy Submarine Service and as Royal Navy Clearance divers, but since their inclusion in the Navy in 1990, they have successfully served as clearance divers.[38][39]

Female personnel currently make up around 9% of the British armed forces.[40] However, female combatants can be found throughout Britain’s military history.[41]

North America[edit | edit source]

Canada[edit | edit source]

File:CWAC mechanic.jpg

Private Lowry, CWAC, tightening up the springs on the front of her vehicle, Chelsea & Cricklewood Garage, England, 7 July 1944.

During the First World War, over 2,300 women served overseas in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. During the Second World War, 5,000 women of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps again served overseas, however they were not permitted to serve on combat warships or in combat teams. The Canadian Army Women's Corps was created during the Second World War, as was the Royal Canadian Air Force (Women's Division). As well, 45,000 women served as support staff in every theatre of the conflict, driving heavy equipment, rigging parachutes, and performing clerical work, telephone operation, laundry duties and cooking. Some 5,000 women performed similar occupations during Canada’s part in the Korean War of 1950–1953.

In 1965 the Canadian government decided to allow a maximum of 1,500 women to serve directly in all three branches of its armed forces, and the former "women's services" were disbanded. In 1970 the government created a set of rules for the armed forces designed to encourage equal opportunities. In 1974 the first woman, Major Wendy Clay, earned her pilot's wings in the newly integrated Canadian Forces.

Between 1979 and 1985 the role of women expanded further, with military colleges allowing women to enroll. In 1982 laws were passed ending all discrimination in employment, and combat related roles in the Canadian armed forces were opened for women, with the exception of the submarine service. In 1986 further laws were created to the same effect. The following years saw Canada’s first female infantry soldier, and a female Brigadier-General.

In 1989, a tribunal appointed under the Canadian Human Rights Act ordered full integration of women in the Canadian Armed Forces "with all due speed", at least within the next ten years. Only submarines were to remain closed to women.[42] Women were permitted to serve on board Canadian submarines in 2002 with the acquisition of the Victoria-class submarine. Master Seaman Colleen Beattie became the first female submariner in 2003.

Canadian women have also commanded large infantry units and Canadian warships.

On May 17, 2006 Captain Nichola Goddard became the first Canadian woman killed in combat during operations in Afghanistan.

United States[edit | edit source]


Two female United States Army soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Division.

From 2005, the first all female C-130 Hercules crew to serve a combat mission for the U.S. Air Force.[43]

United States Army prisoner of war, Private First Class Jessica Lynch, after being rescued in 2003, during the early stages of the Iraq War.

United States Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class (FMF) Claire E. Ballante, from Pearblossom, California, assigned to the Female Engagement Team, patrolling in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, in August 2010.

The first female American soldier was Deborah Sampson of Massachusetts. She enlisted as a Continental Army soldier under the name of "Robert Shurtliff". She served for three years in the Revolutionary War and was wounded twice; she cut a musket ball out of her own thigh so no doctor would find out she was a woman.[citation needed]

During the American Civil War, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman enlisted under the alias of Private Lyons Wakeman.

In the history of women in the military, there are records of female U.S. Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers who enlisted using male pseudonyms, but a letter written by Annie Oakley to President William McKinley on on April 5, 1898 may represent the earliest documentary proof of a political move towards recognizing a woman's right to serve in the United States military. Oakley, sharpshooter and star in the Buffalo Bill Show, wrote a letter to President William McKinley on April 5, 1898 "offering the government the services of a company of 50 'lady sharpshooters' who would provide their own arms and ammunition should war break out with Spain."[44] The Spanish-American War did occur, but Oakley's offer was not accepted.

The Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corps was established in the United States in 1941.

The Woman’s Naval Reserve and Marine Corps Women’s Reserve were created during World War II. In July 1943 a bill was signed removing "auxiliary" from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, making it an official part of the regular army. In 1944 WACs arrived in the Pacific and landed in Normandy on D-Day. During the war, 67 Army nurses and 16 Navy nurses were captured and spent three years as Japanese prisoners of war. There were 350,000 American women who served during World War II and 16 were killed in action; in total, they gained over 1,500 medals, citations and commendations.

Virginia Hall, serving with the Office of Strategic Services, received the second-highest US combat award, the Distinguished Service Cross, for action behind enemy lines in France. Hall, who had one artificial leg, landed clandestinely in occupied territory aboard a British Motor Torpedo Boat.

Law 625, The Women's Armed Services Act of 1948, was signed by President Truman, allowing women to serve in the armed forces in fully integrated units during peacetime, with only the WAC remaining a separate female unit. During the Korean War, women serving in Korea numbered 120,000.

Records regarding American women serving in the Vietnam War are vague. However, it is recorded that 600 women served in the country as part of the Air Force, along with 500 members of the WAC, and over 6,000 medical personnel and support staff.

In 1974, the first six women aviators earned their wings as Navy pilots. The Congressionally mandated prohibition on women in combat places limitations on the pilots' advancement,[45] but at least two retired as captains.[46]

On December 20, 1989, Captain Linda L. Bray, 29, became the first woman to command American soldiers in battle, during the invasion of Panama. She was assigned to lead a force of 30 men and women military police officers to capture a kennel holding guard dogs that was defended by elements of the Panamanian Defense Forces.

The 1991 Persian Gulf War proved to be the pivotal time for the role of women in the United States Armed Forces to come to the attention of the world media. Over 40,000 women served in almost every role the armed forces had to offer. However, while many came under fire, they were not permitted to participate in deliberate ground engagements. Despite this, there are many reports of women engaging enemy forces during the conflict.[47]

Today, women can serve on American combat ships, including in command roles. There is a plan to allow women to serve on submarines.[48] During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan, more than two hundred thousand women have served, of which 152 were killed of which 84 were killed by enemy action.[49]

The case United States v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court ordered that the Virginia Military Institute allow women to register as cadets, gave women soldiers a weapon against laws which (quoting Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg) “[deny] to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature—equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society”.[50]

During the Iraq War, U.S. Army reservists Lynndie England, Megan Ambuhl, and Sabrina Harman were convicted by court martial of cruelty and maltreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

In Afghanistan, Monica Lin Brown, was presented the Silver Star for shielding wounded soldiers with her body, and then treating life-threatening injuries.[51]

In 2011, Major General Margaret H. Woodward commanded Operation Odyssey Dawn's air component, making her the first woman to command a U.S. combat air campaign.[52]

The Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to review the laws, policies and regulations restricting the service of female service members. As a result, DoD submitted the Review of Laws, Policies and Regulations Restricting the Service of Female members in the U.S. Armed Forces, popularly known as the "Women in Service Review", to Congress in February 2012.[53] According to the review, DoD intends to eliminate co-location exclusion (opening over 13,000 Army positions to women); grant exceptions to policy to assign women in open occupations to direct ground combat units at the battalion level; assess the suitability and relevance of direct ground combat unit assignment prohibition to inform future policy based on the results of these exceptions to policy; and to further develop gender-neutral physical standards for closed specialties.[53]

In 2012, two women Marines attempted to go through infantry officer training, both failed the course, and no others have volunteered for the course since January 2013.[49]

On January 23, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the military's ban on women serving in combat, which was instituted in 1994. Still, as of 2010, the majority of women in the U.S. army served in administrative roles [54]

As of July 2013, the U.S. military has had only two women, Ann E. Dunwoody and Janet C. Wolfenbarger, with the rank of four-star general.[55]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. TimesOnline: Adieu, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, a tricky guest Accessed 29 June 2008
  2. [1] Accessed 29 June 2008
  3. women armed
  4. women armed
  5. "Women cleared to serve in combat". ABC News. 27 September 2011. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-27/women-on-the-frontline/2946258. 
  6. United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal » Maoist Army in Writing: Interview With Comrade Commissar
  7. Mulan in Real Life: Chinese Women Soldiers and Feminism
  8. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/03/18/thailand.women.ap/. [dead link]
  9. NATO/IMS: Committee on Women in the NATO Forces: Denmark
  10. "Following the drums: Cantinieres". http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_cantinieres.html. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  11. "Les femmes de la Defense". Ministry of Defense, Government of France. http://www.defense.gouv.fr/caj/egalite-des-chances/le-plan-au-sein-de-la-defense/les-femmes-de-la-defense/(language)/fre-FR#SearchText=femmes#xtcr=10. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  12. D'Ann Campbell, "Women in Combat: The World War Two Experience in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union" Journal of Military History (April 1993), 57:301-323.
  13. Hettler, Ines (2009). Mit Frauen auf See : Soldaten und Soldatinnen aus drei Ländern im Gespräch : ein Lesebuch. Essen: Die Blaue Eule,. ISBN 978-3-89924-256-0. 
  14. "Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1979". Irishstatutebook.ie. 1979-11-06. http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1979/en/act/pub/0028/index.html. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  15. "Dáil Éireann - Volume 658 - 02 July, 2008 - Written Answers. - Defence Forces Personnel". Historical-debates.oireachtas.ie. http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0658/D.0658.200807020061.html. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  16. [2][dead link]
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 UNDP helps Ukrainian Ministry of Defence create new opportunities for women, UNDP (June 16, 2009)
  18. Nato Review
  19. Forsvarsnett: Kvinner
  20. "Compulsory military service". Norwegian Armed Forces. 16 January 2012. http://mil.no/organisation/compulsory-military-service/Pages/compulsory-military-service.aspx. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  21. Marie Melgård, Karen Pond Mound (21 April 2013). "Stortinget vedtar verneplikt for kvinner 14. juni" (in norwegian). ISSN 0804-3116. http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/politikk/Stortinget-vedtar-verneplikt-for-kvinner-14-juni-7181087.html#.UXvu5Er-uSr. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  22. Ryland, Julie (23 April 2013). "Norwegian women opposed to gender-neutral military service". The Norway Post. http://www.norwaypost.no/index.php/news/latest-news/28169-norwegian-women-opposed-to-gender-neutral-military-service. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  23. Women in Home Army
  24. Women in army – in Polish
  25. in Polish
  26. Women's Death Battalion
  27. in Swedish, Retrieved 04-23-2007
  28. 28.0 28.1 http://www.nato.int/ims/2001/win/turkey.htm
  29. Sabiha Gokcen (1913-2001), Pioneer Aviatrix
  30. http://www.nato.int/ims/2005/win/national_reports/turkey.pdf
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 Ukraine’s few, proud female soldiers, Kyiv Post (May 13, 2010)
  32. Army Girls! Talking to Ukraine’s Female Soldiers, What's On (2009)
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 Stark, Suzanne J. (1998). Female Tars: Women Aboard Ship in the Age of Sail. Pimlico. pp. 68–71. ISBN 0-7126-6660-5. 
  34. Lucy Milks, Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex, 1907–1948 (2006)
  35. Nancy Goldman, ed. Female Soldier: Combatants or Non-Combatants? Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (1982)
  36. 36.0 36.1 Weathers, Helen (16 July 2001). "Women on the frontline". London. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-60478/Women-frontline.html. 
  37. Sands, Sarah (2007-04-01). "Sarah Sands: Only the capture of Prince Harry could have done more damage". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20090222021935/http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/sarah-sands/sarah-sands-only-the-capture-of-prince-harry-could-have-done-more-damage-442716.html. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  38. "Royal Navy's first woman warship commander Sarah West takes up her post". BBC News. 22 May 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-18158980. 
  39. "'Long, hard struggle' for green beret". BBC News. 31 May 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/2017213.stm. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  40. Defence Factsheet, Women in the Armed Forces
  41. "Women on the military frontline". BBC News. 29 March 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6502847.stm. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  42. Ellen Symons, "Under Fire: Canadian Women in Combat," Canadian journal of women and the law (1990) 4:477-511
  43. Johnson, Michael G. (2005-09-27). "First All-female Crew Flies Combat Mission". Defend America. United States Department of Defense. http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/sep2005/a092705wm3.html. Retrieved 2006-07-02. 
  44. Oakley, Oakley (5 April 1898). "Letter to President William McKinley from Annie Oakley". National Archives and Records Administration. http://www.archives.gov/research/recover/example-02.html. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  45. "Navy Woman Decries Limitations". Ocala Star-Banner. August 23, 1984. vol. 40, no. 537, p. 8C. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=19840823&id=kdgTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iwYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6981,4703933. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  46. Towler, E. Blake, ed (May–June 1997). "Woman Aviator Pioneer Retires" (PDF). p. 43 (electronic p. 4). http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1997/mj97/ppp.pdf. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  47. Wilson, Barbara A. "Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm". American Women in Uniform, Veterans Too!. http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvetsds.html. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  48. "US navy lifts ban on women submariners". London. 29 April 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/29/us-navy-submarines-women. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  49. 49.0 49.1 Pauline Jelinek (5 January 2013). "Do women want the toughest fighting jobs?". Gannett Government Media Corporation. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2013/01/ap-women-want-toughest-fighting-jobs-010513. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  50. United States v. Virginia, et al. 518 U.S. 515 (1996). pp. 516, 532 (electronic pp. 2, 18). Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  51. Clare, Micah E. (24 March 2008). "Face of Defense: Woman Soldier Receives Silver Star". Department of Defense. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=49348. 
  52. Green, Peter S. (29 March 2011). "Woodward First Woman to Command U.S. Air Attack in Libya ‘No-Fly’ Mission". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/5yA6D7eXC. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  53. 53.0 53.1 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness (February 2012). Report to Congress on the Review of Laws, Policies and Regulations Restricting the Service of Female Members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Women in Service Review). [Arlington, Va.]: Department of Defense. http://www.defense.gov/news/WISR_Report_to_Congress.pdf. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  54. Statistics on occupational roles of women and men in the U.S. military, U.S. Department of Defense, December 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  55. Bowman, Tom (16 November 2008). "Military's First Female Four-Star General". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97071204. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.