Role of women in military

Throughout the history of the world, women have tried by all means to provide various services in the military. Many women have acted as nurses when in battle fields, while others have developed the courage to join their male counterparts in the real attacks. The involvement of women in these activities came when it was proved that women could attain same qualifications with like men in mental, emotional and physical contexts.

Since some combat activities like naval and aerial require skills only, integrating women in the forefront does not matter. The period that spans from 1980 to 1990 marks significant important reforms that related to women’s role in military activities. The world world outcried in the same tone calling for involvement of women in military activities and offer equal opportunities in recruiting military officers regardless of the gender (Midamba, 1995, 45).The issue attracted attention of the whole world but the nature and complexity of the reforms that took place varied from country to country.

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Feminist lawsuits forwarded the case to Supreme Court in the middle of 1990s, challenging the policies of the Air Force that were applied by then. The agitating policy in this area was the exclusion of women in training courses of the military pilots. This training was made for men only. This motion was pushed by the fact that many nations started gendered institutions in early years of the nineteenth century, which mandated men more than women in several areas of participation. All over the world, military activities were segregated with respect to gender.

This discrimination not only took place in military areas but also in jobs and locales of service. Women felt the need to get full assimilation in Air Force institutions, an achievement that could only be realized through taking a legal action against the departments (Heidensohn, 1999, 12). The action was geared at undermining the structure of these institutions which are gendered in their undertakings.Petitioners felt that denying women the opportunity to serve in flying positions of the Air Force and military activities was violating and intimidating women’s right to equality. Petitioners came from Associations for Civil Rights and Women’s Networks. The Supreme Court had no choice other than giving an order to the military authorities to open and conduct training sessions based on sameness of both men and women. Women were since then given the opportunity to participate in combat roles and in other braches of military operations such as Navy. The Supreme Court also performed an amendment of legislature particularly the Defense Act and Women’s Equal Rights Act.

They were adjusted to allow specific provisions for women to occupy any position in the military network provided that the substance and nature of the post does not prevent women’s participation.This court ruling received an overwhelming support from the world’s population. In the military activities, images of new women and female warriors appeared both in practice and in minds of the leaders all over the world. Assimilation of women in this department was seen as a significant move in fighting for sameness. It was treated as a prominent indicator of the feminist struggle for equality. This principle was highly adopted and implemented quickly in United States of America and Israel.

In America, the issue came without much struggle because women did not organize themselves in large groups to go and present their grievances (Schultz, 1999, 10).The assimilationists or the sameness principle was the major concept that was used in the feminist struggle for gender equality. It was a notion that integrating women in masculine activities was the only possible and ultimate avenue that could be used to achieve gender equality. This ideology was accompanied by an assumption that gender equality was homogenous with respect to women. It was felt that similar terms can be employed in measuring equality and therefore assimilation of women in military work could benefit all women even those who were not employed. Gender activists attached no differences in the principle of sameness within women simply because they believed women are similar in terms of interests, needs and preferences. This line of thought automatically excluded women who could not recognize the principle of sameness. The liberal assumptions of sameness regardless of the gender did not only integrate women in the military field but also fulfilled other vital aspects to show the feminist struggle for equality (Lee, 2000, 34).

The movement paved way for women to be involved fully in the spheres of masculine activities and receive fair treatment in legal issues. The doctrine of sameness also ensured women were integrated and fully represented in local and regional religious councils. It is through the same doctrine that the retirement age for both men and women was equalized. Women were also incorporated in the municipal bodies and councils as feminists saw it essential to promote the significance of women in the development of societies. To match active involvement in the workforce and parental responsibility, sameness doctrine directed the feminist activists to demand for maternity leaves and work absence made to nurturer a sick child. These reforms were highly adopted all over the world and were seen as a gate to appreciation of women in fulfilling societal obligations. Since then women have been treated with due respect and sanctity as the one given to men in areas of militarily operations (Garlick, 1992, 50).

Following the above considerations, the developed parts of the world completely buried the differences between men and women, ending the male draft. Statisticians have indicated that the percentage of women participating in military personnel has dramatically increased since 1980 to 1990. Today, many women have been serving in active duties in the Department Of Defense in the military field.

Other areas in which they have been involved include Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and the Army. Fifteen percent of women who serve in these departments are officers, comparatively equal to men’s percentage. Because of the masculine specifications that are involved in the marine department, the number of women serving as officers is comparatively less. Minority women have been observed to serve a larger percentage in military than military men (Cott, 2000, 40).

Today’s military population has embraced high standards of educational standards. Many women in the military serving as officers hold college bachelor degrees and others have graduated from service academics. The role of women in the military undertakings is dictated by capabilities of the participants.

They are therefore fully integrated in combat activities because current laws do not restrict engagement of women in this area. Laws however do not allow permanent combat assignment of women in Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy. Combat missions involving aircraft and ships are seen dangerous for women and therefore preserved for men.

Studies from America indicate that citizens greatly support the participation of women in military activities. Exemptions have been made in activities that involve hand to hand combat, ground combat or direct combat. In the Navy sector, job assignments are statutorily restricted by Navy policy (Amott, 1991, 60).This policy declares that women can not fly in aircrafts or serve in ships that the Navy designates as combat. They are however allowed to perform some temporary duties in the combat section or else conduct trainings to men who are made to fly combat planes. They can also be assigned the responsibilities within the Navy auxiliary ships. These responsibilities may include research, training ships, repair and civilian contract ships. Marine Corps are sections within Department of Navy, where statutory restrictions are highly pronounced by Corps policy.

Coast Guards form part of the Department of transport. Military women in this section are not restricted by the law. They therefore have the privilege to serve in aboard Coast Guard ships. Here, women are also entrusted with commanding coastal patrol boats which are used in providing rescue and search services and activities related to marine law enforcement. In this section, women are allowed by the law to act as Anti Submarine Warfare officers and therefore assist in executing Coast Guard cutters (Moghadam, 1993, 100).Due to liberty and democracy which surrounded the world, women soldiers were involved in the American war against Iraq.  Debates have come up in America questioning the roles of women in military work.

This has been a reaction against the existing law that prevents them from engaging themselves in most ground combat units. Reports have however said that these restrictions are randomly followed in the United States depending on where and when violence erupts up. Due to the value attached to human life, no one admires endangering the lives of men or women. The idea of restricting women in this hard area has been seen as dubious. It is a measure believed to protect them but on the other hand denying them their rights.As a measure to encourage and promote the role of women in fulfilling their functions in the military operations, sexual assault has been given a strong and outstanding concern by policy makers and implementers. It is the profound reason as to why women are prohibited from participating in combat activities. Sexual abuse has been prescribed by policy makers and human rights activists to be giving unequal opportunity to survive between military men and women.

Restrictions based on sexual assaults have received a lot of criticism because it curtails women from achieving their professional aspirations and opportunities. It is a way of telling them to stay indoors to prevent a sexual attack. It has thus been proposed that safe measures should be implemented that will make sure women are protected from sexual abuse as they serve in military (Midamba, 1995, 45).The contributions of women have been experienced around the globe since the Second World War. They were used to ferry bombers and acted as the captains of ships that were sent to reinforce the fighting troops. After this performance, it was seen that restricting women from military activities is denying them their rights and leading them to hard life in terms of income generation.

Women therefore, should be given the freedom to make their choices. Most of them have argued that since the choice is theirs, they are ready to face the challenges and the risks concerned with the occupations. The issue of women acting as war photographers or astronauts has totally maintained the stand against women participation in these activities. War photographic is highly associated with captivity and astronauts are associated with high chances of losing their lives (Heidensohn, 1999, 12).Putting all the above prospects in mind, we may be tempted to believe that there exists equality between men and women which should be equally pronounced in military operations. The doctrine of fairness tries to argue from very realistic point of view, clearly pinpointing the inherent differences that exist between men and women, especially in the militia activities.

According to the fairness doctrine, men are distinctively the best choice for military because of their nature. Works in military are tough, risky and physically demanding. By nature, women are weak and are not predominantly exposed to scaring and sometimes fatal undertakings. Military police is entitled to duties such as going out for patrol at night. There is always a high probability of meeting enemy ambushes or combat supporters.

This encounter ignites a deadly clash with combat soldiers who are usually well armed and trained to kill (Schultz, 1999, 12). A very low number of women victims of this kind of encounters have ever survived since they were absorbed in the military. During these attacks, women are abused sexually and this intimidates the sanctity attached to their lives greatly.Fairness doctrine stipulates that physical characteristic should be considered before women are engaged in these duties. Militia activities best fit people who are not expected to make major contributions in the society or families. This is why a man working in the military can afford to raise and support a family without major challenges as compared to women. This is certainly because men are not entitled to many responsibilities in the family as women do.

Men can spend many days without visiting family members but family ties still remain. This is due to the fact that his physical presence may not be necessary all the time. An example of a conflict that has supported the doctrine of fairness is the tussle between US and Iraq. Statistics of the attacks show that 65% of the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq comprise of women.

Still, 85% of the ones who have been wounded are women. To worsen the scenario, 90% of those who have been imprisoned are the same type of gender. This picture has been used by many analysts to explain the dangers women may be exposed to if an increased involvement in militia activities is undertaken (Lee, 2000, 40).Treating women fairly has been taken as part of civilization. A civilized nation does not expose women to dangerous opportunities like combat violence. Civilization supports women in military but it does not support their subjection to direct violence in combat. The direct combat units may include Special Forces, armor and infantry.There has been an increasing scholarships, popular publications and media coverage discussing the effect if women’s engagement in military operations on their families.

These have been the efforts towards attaining equality in this department, starting point being depicting the meaning of equality in real life (Garlick, 1992, 50). The variation in the understanding of equality may be contributed by sociological and biological aspects surrounding different persons and work environments. It is only after making these judgments when the law and the society can reflect the impact of these variations and come with a system of administration that treats everybody fairly.

Many institutions around the world apply the principle of equality through difference in most of the military operations. This principle advocates for special treatment of women in form of exemptions, options and privileges. This kind of treatment allows women to maintain stable families and at the same time face no limits to benefiting from the military employment. Exemptions made for fulfillment of a family core can not lead to a cut in salary, sack or any disciplinary action. Women are generally viewed vulnerable and full of special needs because of the reproductive role. They are also perceived to posses physical weaknesses.

These are the factors that have brought controversy in the process of defining equality. It has been found out that military women have difficulties in maintaining their families. The reasons for this failure vary from a country to another and from individual to individual.

Different countries have different regulations and different working environments (Cott, 2000, 40). Different individuals have different ways of living, preferences and determinations.Military work is affected by both individual aspects and statutory laws that govern how they work. Military engagement in such a way that time cannot be properly budgeted. This is because they are people who are involved in responding to unexpected or unanticipated events. Family woman would like to work in an environment in which time is clearly defined.

This gives the opportunity to spare time for attending to children and her husband. Without this contact in the family, it is hard to maintain a family ties or be in good terms with family members. This issue posses a big challenge to women who wish to join military or who are already in the military service (Amott, 1991, 60). They have to make a choice between sacrificing the family and serving at the military or minding on family matters and let the job of military operations go.

To add, military operations take long time and are in most cases continuous. The women in these operations may be entitled to benefits like maternity leaves. But the frequency of the leaves may be limited by long time they take in performing their duties. A minor woman in military may expect or wish to reproduce during young ages. However, lack of time may not allow her to perform this because the frequency of leaves is not well defined, but depends on several aspects. The nature of duties that are undertaken by the military are masculine and sometimes may lead to physical encounters.

The characteristics of the work completely disregard pregnant women. It is not a kind of duty that can be performed by expectant mothers. This means the rate of births for such a woman is controlled by other forces and no family planning can be trusted to save the situation.

Several studies have been done to depict the attitude of women who are serving in military posts. Many suggestions have shown that women do not enjoy the nature of military operations but are just forced by economic hardships to work in them. The job does not allow workers to interact with their families.

Many women have also reported that the job has led to many family breakups and divorces. Because of the long time workers spend without meeting their spouses, military workers are said to be sex hungry. A lot of immorality is therefore associated with these people. This again makes familial engagements with military women and men challenging.

The above description depicts that the family and military women are not compatible from the perspective and the aspect of time (Moghadam, 1993, 100).To make final generalization, the role of women in military should be highly appreciated and given matching rewards. Military strategists should give the issue a clear perspective and special attention. This will be made to analyze the costs and benefits of giving women these responsibilities. It will be essential to find alternatives when opportunities prove to be risky. If the event of ensuring gender balance in military seems to endanger women, they should be provided with other sources of income. If this is not the case, they should be assigned roles that are not very physically demanding in military.

They may be assigned office jobs that may be clerical or accountancy. The areas that specifically do not require physical strain can be preserved for women in the military departments. As military activities are becoming complex and complex every day, technology is giving the field an equal match. It is therefore important to apply technology in daily activities and reduce the number of participants involved. This will keep the operations ongoing but at the same time improve the safety of both men and women (Moghadam, 1993, 99). 

Author: Jessie Watts


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