Exclusion of women in ground combat roles


Canada assigns women to combat roles, but the U.S. Pentagon still upholds a policy that makes more than 200-thousand combat-related jobs unavailable to female military personnel. Those in support of the Pentagon site everything from pregnancy to strength to putting a damper on teamwork in the argument to uphold its gender exclusion policy. Now, the legal fight against the Pentagon is going to court.

Exclusion of women in ground combat roles - Major Mary Jennings Hegar

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of American service women against Leon Panetta - the Secretary of Defense. It's to challenge the exclusion of women in ground combat roles. The exclusion bars women from more than 230-thousand positions in the forces.

Major Mary Jennings Hegar is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She has served on three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a combat medivac chopper pilot. Major Hegar joined us from Austin, Texas.

Exclusion of women in ground combat roles - Elaine Donnelly

Elaine Donnelly believes there are good reasons for the U.S. Army to retain the barriers to women in combat roles.  She is President at The Centre for Military Readiness - a U.S. independent public policy organization. She was in Livonia Michigan.

Exclusion of women in ground combat roles - Karen Davis

If the G.I Janes eventually move toward a more aggressive role in combat, they'll find many of their allies are already there. In the new year, Australia  begins to remove all barriers to women in the armed forces. Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands have already done so.

The Canadian Armed Forces began removing gender barriers in the late 1980s and is now fully integrated. Karen Davis is a Defence Scientist with the Canadian Forces Leadership Institute.  She is the author of two books on women in the armed forces and has done extensive research on the integration of women throughout the Armed Forces. She was in Kingston. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.

Other segment from today's show:

Egypt Divided

Frank Stronach, Magna Man

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