What do people conjure up when they think about military forces? Strong men, machine guns, tanks, jets, warships – these are the first things that spring to mind.
However, throughout history, there has always been the place for women in the military sector. Just think of the legendary female warrior Joan of Arch. While earlier women were engaged mainly in military medicine, today they are allowed in many military units and even in the frontline jobs. This is the result of gender equality policies that spread to the field of military forces. Many countries have understood that women are an essential part of the army. Every civil European, dating a servicewoman, realizes it. Here is a list of countries that willingly allow women in their military forces and have quite a large percentage of them.
Among European countries, the French army can boast the largest number of women in its personnel. First, women had the roles of cooks, and in 1914 they were accepted as battlefield nurses. In 1972 they could be enlisted on the same terms as men. Submarines and riot-control are the branches where women are still not allowed. They may serve in combat infantry units, but few of them choose to serve within it. Three major military fields in which women are involved are Medical Corps, the Air Force, and the Navy. There is no indulgence to female soldiers. They have to pass the same tests as men to be recruited. Today, women comprise about 8% of the military forces.
Norway is one of those Western countries that have women in different military branches. Even combat positions are available for women. Since 1985, Norwegian servicewomen are allowed to enter any unit, even submarines. However, not all the eager women are accepted. The army recruits only the best female soldiers who live up to the universal standards. It means that there are no special terms for women – they are treated the same way as men. It explains why the share of women in the army constitutes only 10%. In 2014, the law of general conscription came into force in Norway. Since then, men and women can be called up when there is a necessity to protect their country.
In 1989, Canadian women had the right to serve in any branch of the armed forces except for submarine. However, soon after that, Canada started to allow women in all combat frontline positions. Women make up 15 percent of the Canadian army. Yet, it should be mentioned that only 2 percent of them serve in combat units. The popular positions are the Air Force and warships.
There are no limitations as to women’s recruitment in New Zealand. Servicewomen are allowed even in the Special Air Force, but due to the serious requirements and severe tests, there aren’t any females in this unit. The New Zealand Defense Force encourages the enlistment of women in the Navy, Army, and Air Force as they are aimed at facilitating gender equality in the military forces. To date, women make up 15% of the armed forces.
In Israel, women fall under the obligatory conscription. However, they have to serve less than men – 2 years instead of 3. The Israeli Defense Force began to recruit women for combat positions in 1985. Since the 2000s, they have been allowed to serve in almost every unit, even to have combat posts. The numerous studies into female performance have shown that they are better motivated, skilled in shooting, and disciplined than the male military. It came as no surprise when a female officer Orna Barbivay was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed the position of the Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate.