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Women in the Canadian Military - A Generational Success

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Women in the Canadian Military - A Generational Success

Canada is a country where there are no barriers to the employment of women in the military. Attitudes and laws restricted women’s opportunities in uniform not anymore: thousands of them serve Canada with pride today. While society’s attitudes towards women in the military have grown more accepting, and changes in the law have driven the opening of all occupations in the Canadian Armed Forces, it is the individual women who blazed a trail with their determination to seize those opportunities, and the collective hard work and success of all women that has brought us to this moment. None of this would have been possible had the military not opened the doors of the Royal Military College of Canada and Allowed women to fly jets… To serve aboard ships… To become a Snowbird or a Skyhawk... And to command the Queen’s Guard. The path to these successes has taken over a century. Women first served in nursing roles during the North-West Rebellion, the South African War, and the First World War. 30,000 women worked on the home front in factories producing weapons and ammunition, on family farms, or performed clerical work in offices. For the time it was an acceptable way for women to contribute to the war effort. When the Second World War broke out, 55,000 women answered the call. Some served with the British Air Transport Auxiliary, ferrying fighters and bombers from factories to air fields. Nursing Sister Margaret Brooke was awarded the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry, an Arctic Patrol Ship was named after her. As serving members we owe much to those who, following the war, believed that women should have the same opportunities as men to serve their country. Those advocates included: Colonel and Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Women’s Army Medical Corps; Director and Commander of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service; And Commander of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. Integration and acceptance of women within the military increased exponentially after 1967. Programs such as Service Women in the Non Traditional Roles provided greater opportunities for women to serve in any occupation and to advance based on their performance and potential and not on their gender. In the 1970s, women constituted 1.5 percent of the Forces. Today, it has grown past 15 percent. We recognize the importance of a military that reflects the diversity of Canada, a country where over 50 percent of the population are women. Women continue to make their mark in the military. Not because they are women, but because they are members of the Canadian Armed Forces. We value the contribution that women have made as serving members, but also as veterans to Canada. All Canadians can take pride in the accomplishments of the women who have served, are serving and will serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Women have been serving in Canada’s military for over a century and today, they play a pivotal role in defending Canada’s safety and security. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was one of the first military forces to allow women to serve in all occupations. This video highlights the evolution of the role of women over the years.

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Canadian Armed Forces
January 1, 2018

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