A lot of work needs to be done to enhance the participation of women in the army
In the current political climate, I often find myself wondering about the sanctioned borders between women and violence. Why is the role of women confined to only support during a war? Is warfare, which is essentially human not for both the sexes, thus a shared conundrum?
As many have read over and over, and repeated several times before, violence is hardly the solution to violence. However, at the same time, how has the idea of gender segregation in a war resulted in harmony and enlightenment?
International political scholar, Joshua Goldstein, writes in his 2001 book, War and Gender, that far less than one percent of all warriors have been female in history. It’s an established fact that conflict and battle are a socially diverse occurrence, but one may ask why that diversity vanishes when it comes to gender.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has hijacked our primetime news for the past two weeks. The faces of Vladmir Putin, Joe Biden, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy have been on our television screens for pretty much this entire period. However, let us not ignore the 30,000 women soldiers in the Ukranian army that have been recruited since 2014. (For the uninitiated, 15 percent of the Ukranian military personnel is female.) Whether Ukraine wins the war or not, they have taken a huge leap in defeating the biggest enemy that women face on a constant basis: discrimination.
Why is the role of women confined to only support during a war? Is warfare, which is essentially human not for both the sexes, thus a shared conundrum? How has the idea of gender segregation in a war resulted in harmony and enlightenment?
The situation of the female Ukranian fighters is not perfect and it is not ideal, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Their military boasts gender advisors who have been tasked to help fight discrimination within the armed forces. Moreover, studies have been conducted by female frontliners on the ways discrimination due to gender stereotypes can be handled and eliminated. Not to mention the hundreds and thousands of women that are taking their children and elderly to safety and then returning to fight for their country alongside men. These are the women of resistance, who less than a month back had professions like a banker, a librarian and an economist.
Maybe it is time we reflected on how the military can become more inclusive and diverse in terms of gender amongst other aspects. Women are often known to bring fresh perspectives in male-dominated organisations. Moreover, anyone would argue that excluding 50 percent of the population in a profession is the most inefficient use of human resource. Opening up doors to more and more women broadens the number as well as the range of recruits to choose from, focusing on the range of skills irrespective of what the gender is.
A lot of work that needs to be done to enhance the participation of women in the army. Not only that, but it is crucial that their experience is equitable to their male counterparts.
Pakistan has a long way to go in these matters. Besides, from the obvious challenges women are expected to face in the military, the biggest is that of changing the mindsets and creating acceptability. This can only be done in an environment where women are treated with respect and safety.
The writer is a training and development advisor at a German development organisation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org