Women in the military

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The role of women in military has changed significantly over the past century. Traditional military setups were opposed to the inclusion of women in their ranks, with the physiological differences across gender being cited as impediments to female active involvement. In combat cases, for instance, females were considered weaker than their male counterparts. In addition, their abilities to sustain prolonged war was called into question. However, this prospect has progressively changed over the years, with the American Military of the 21st century exhibiting diversity and inclusion (Basham 728). The trend of inclusion of more women in the military ranks is also noted in other major western nations, especially NATO member states. However, questions continue to linger over the suitability of women as active participants in combat war. Some sections suggest that lighter military chores should be reserved for the females, while heavier duties are delegated to their male counterparts thought to be stronger, more efficient and less susceptible to burnout. In spite of the positions cited against women in military, it is arguable that their involvement contributes to strategic efficiency, effectiveness and sociocultural equity in military service.

Access to education opportunities is a principle element linked to one’s participation in the service. Traditional setups seemed biased in favor of the males who were able to access all the opportunities that were available, leaving the channels that the females could follow to realize their academic objectives limited. The inclusion of females in the military is thus a major step in the right direction. The move has not only opened up the education opportunities available through the military department to women, but has also ensured that there is equity in the distribution of the available opportunities to across gender (Brownson 765). In the wake of the contemporary economic landscape characterized with increased cost of tuition in high schools and universities, females may not afford the exorbitant costs. Through their participation in the military, they access financing which enable them to complete their secondary and enroll for tertiary education in lines of their interests.

The expansion of the opportunities in the military to include women can also be considered as an economic empowerment program (Parashar 239). The first channel through which the economic empowerment is implemented is through the support of their education hence enabling them to access better paying jobs after their service. Alternatively, the military personnel are empowered directly through salaries, incentives and other benefits. Women in military, like their male counterparts, are entitled to veterans’ incentives and support funds which help to restructure their economic statuses in their societies. Therefore, the opening of the military service to both genders is a way of distributing wealth across gender and fostering respect between males and females.

Analysis of the traditional career landscape indicates that highly rewarding positions were reserved for males who were considered to have better skills that enabled them to fit effectively in such positions. Some of the key properties that are considered key for career success include discipline, timeliness, advanced interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and determination. Critical evaluation of the military setups show that these essential interpersonal skills can be acquired through military training. Members of the forces are not only considered as the most disciplined units globally, but are also characterized with determination, perseverance and commitment to the shared objectives. The participation of the women in the military thus helps to develop their interpersonal, intrapersonal and basic skills, enabling them to be better positioned to succeed in careers outside the military environments. In this light, it is arguable that women in military stand higher chances of being employed if they choose to pursue careers outside military following their resignation or retirement.

While traditional military was considered a male career which enabled them to showcase masculinity and other male-associated attributes. The new global dynamics have since changed drastically, with the need for intensive intelligence gathering and other counter-strategies necessary to overcome enemy forces (Creveld 3). The inclusion of the females in the military is a critical move for the contemporary global setups. The move not only ensures that the soldiers are able to work collaboratively with their female counterparts, but also provides a platform to incorporate feminine attributes in combat. This approach is essential to win certain wars. In Afghanistan and Iraq wars, for instance, there was heavy involvement of women in the military operations with the sole objective of applying their feminine attributes to influence the activities of the male opponents.

According to Allison, there is a general principle that “what men can do, women can do better” (431). For centuries, this phrase remained vague since military operations primarily involved male combatants who were tasked with the protection of lives of females and children. However, the new modalities for integrating females in the military helps to put the phrase into practice. The approach means that females have the opportunity to complement the strategic approaches of their male counterparts by incorporating their feminine strengths in the strategy development and implementation (Kronsell 280). Collective decision making between males and females is thus an essential element in the contemporary war. In addition, the inclusion of the females in active combat and other military operations helps to affirm the principle that masculinity does not confer superiority (Basham 731). Instead, the move complements the belief that masculinity is as good as femininity, with each faction having different strengths that they bring on board (Kronsell 281). For instance, the males might bring physical strength on board. On the contrary, their female counterparts complement the physical strength of the males with manipulative skills hence facilitating the defeat of the enemy soldiers.

Diversity is a key strength of the 21st century society. Studies indicate that the methods for showcasing diversity are different in the various societies that constitute the global system (Higate 321). Similarly, the natures and forms of diversity in the sociocultural landscapes are numerous. One of the major forms of diversity is the gender-based differentiation between the males and the females. The integration of females in the military is viewed as a strategic step to advance the concept of diversity, and showcase the belief in equity within the society (Basham 411). This approach is a digression from the conventional model in which the males were expected to complete the hard and physically demanding chores while women were left at home to complete household duties.

The 21st century society is anchored on the principle of integration and inclusion (Higate 329). Therefore, the opening of the military ranks for females is a plausible move that facilitates the realization of the gender integration goals. Also, the approach enables patriotic females to defend their nations and protect the interests of their people.  The inclusion of females in the military is also considered as a way of honoring the belief in America as “the land of the free and home of the brave” (Brownson 772). Based on the phrase, brave women should be allowed to exercise their freedoms and bravery within the stipulated federal institutions such as the military.

One of the key challenges that nations face in their quest to establish strong and sustainable military systems is the rate of influx of the recruits. Shortages of healthy males would imply that the military units would operate below the capacity, or be compelled to forcefully recruit the unfit males. However, the expansion of the military to include women has addressed the challenge by facilitating progressive and constant supply of healthy personnel to the units. Therefore, the expenditures on healthcare are reduced significantly, a prospect that helps to guarantee operations of the military within the stipulated budgets (Murdoch S6). Due to the huge population of healthy women likely to join the military, the degree of preparedness of the country to counter any attacks from external units can be countered promptly. Therefore, inclusion of the females in the military enhances the strengths of the units.

Further, the psychological wellness of the males depends on the moral and social support that they receive from their counterparts. In this light, the females can be key partners to their male colleagues, giving them moral and social support as they tackle challenges. Also, close friendships might emerge between the females and their male counterparts, enabling them to confide in each other and share their challenges and problems (Sasson-Levy 447). Such developments are important for military setups as they help the soldiers to stay psychologically and emotionally stable. By sharing their problems, the soldiers are at lower risks of encountering burnouts, mental health problems, and psychosocial problems. Therefore, women can be integrated in military service as combat soldiers or as counsellors to help the male soldiers share their problems and escape the negative health consequences that could otherwise occur. Cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD have since been established to be controlled or regulated through open discussions between confidants (Hudson 287). Therefore, the inclusion of women in the military promotes strategic effectiveness of the units by keeping the soldiers fit and responsive at all times.

In conclusion the inclusion of females in the military contributes towards the strategic effectiveness and efficiency of the units, and sociocultural equity in the sector. However, the degree of integration of women in military vary based on their specific roles in the units. Analyses of the literature have, however, confirmed that their inclusion have strengths as well as weaknesses. Nonetheless, the merits of the opening of military ranks for women outweigh the associated demerits. Some of the noted advantages of the inclusion of the females in military include expansion of the military opportunities, steady supply of healthy personnel, provision of opportunities of the females to further their education, and advanced training and skills development which help the females to pursue other career lines after military service. In the wake of the changing military tactics and dynamics, it is vital to include females to enhance fluidity in combat and in strategy development. More importantly, it is critical to promote positive gender relations to harness the full potential of the multi-gender military units.

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  1. Allison, Katherine. “Feminist Security Studies and Feminist International Political Economy: Considering Feminist Stories.” Politics & Gender, vol. 11, no. 02, 2015, pp. 430–434., doi:10.1017/s1743923x1500015x.
  2. Basham, Victoria Marie. “Harnessing Social Diversity in the British Armed Forces: The Limitations of ‘Management’ Approaches.” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 47, no. 4, 2009, pp. 411–429., doi:10.1080/14662040903363071.
  3. Basham, Victoria. “Effecting discrimination: operational effectiveness and harassment in the British armed forces.” Armed Forces & Society, vol. 35, no. 4, 2008, pp. 728–744., doi:10.1177/0095327×08324762.
  4. Brownson, Connie. “The battle for equivalency: Female US marines discuss sexuality, physical fitness, and military leadership.” Armed Forces & Society, vol. 40, no. 4, June 2014, pp. 765–788., doi:10.1177/0095327×14523957.
  5. Creveld, Martin Van. “Less than we can be: Men, women and the modern military.” Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, 2000, pp. 1–20., doi:10.1080/01402390008437809.
  6. Higate, Paul. “‘Cowboys and Professionals’: The Politics of Identity Work in the Private and Military Security Company.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, Aug. 2011, pp. 321–341., doi:10.1177/0305829811425752.
  7. Hudson, Heidi. “Peacebuilding Through a Gender Lens and the Challenges of Implementation in Rwanda and Côte dIvoire.” Security Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, Dec. 2009, pp. 287–318., doi:10.1080/09636410902899982.
  8. Kronsell, Annica. “Gendered practices in institutions of hegemonic masculinity.” International Feminist Journal of Politics, vol. 7, no. 2, 2005, pp. 280–298., doi:10.1080/14616740500065170.
  9. Murdoch, Maureen et al. “Women and War: What Physicians Should Know.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 21.Suppl 3 (2006): S5–S10. PMC. Web. 13 Dec. 2017.
  10. Parashar, Swati. “Feminist international relations and women militants: case studies from Sri Lanka and Kashmir.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, vol. 22, no. 2, 2009, pp. 235–256., doi:10.1080/09557570902877968.
  11. Sasson-Levy, Orna. “Feminism and Military Gender Practices: Israeli Women Soldiers in “Masculine” Roles.” Sociological Inquiry, vol. 73, no. 3, 2003, pp. 440–465., doi:10.1111/1475-682x.00064.
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