A consideration occasioned by the US military lifting the ban on women in combat in 2013
As a member of the Israeli armed forces (where women serve in combat) I never felt I was in any particular danger due to the gender mix of my fellow soldiers and me. Nor did any of my colleagues, especially male, comment to me that they felt my presence or any other female presence served as a distraction. I had the opportunity of serving as a staff sergeant, and trained men and never was it indicated to me that my gender was in any way a disservice to their training. I feel that if a woman is in good physical shape, she is fully capable of meeting the rigors of army requirements.
I felt it was my duty to perform in the capacity of a soldier as service to Israel and appreciated that I was neither discriminated or singled out because of my gender. The history of women participating in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is quite long, before and since the founding of the state of Israel. As such, there is little hoopla about women participating in the military in Israel. I certainly think that women being afforded the opportunity to serve in Israel allows for a better understanding of the machinations of war, and of the loss of a comrade. Participating in the army, however, can never prepare you for a child having to serve. Incidentally, as an Ethiopian, I have seen and been made aware of women participating in warfare from early on. During the 1970s and 1980s female family members supported the action of freedom fighters from my hometown of Tigray during the Derg Period. There was always a contingent of women that supported the fighters as they marched into battle, including fighting on the front line. War is brutal and cruel and can be exacted by men and women.
-- Beejhy Barhany is the Executive Director of the BINA CULTURAL FOUNDATION
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