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Should Women Be In Uniform

Jun 26, 2008
With the sad news this week of the death of Sergeant Sarah Bryant whilst serving with the British Army in Afghanistan the question is once again raised about whether or not women should be in uniform, performing such risky jobs.

There can't be many people in the UK these days that wouldn't agree with equality. Of course women can serve the country as well as the men but do they really need to don a uniform and go to the frontline? And what are people's objections to them doing so?

The idea of women on the front line has long been objected to. It was considered the woman's place to stay at home and look after the children, the next generation. It was considered the man's job to go out and defend his country and its women and children. In women's fight for equality it has been a long hard road to be given the right to take up these positions. And we can easily see from the statistics that there are relatively few women compared to men that chose to go into these jobs.

But surely that is exactly the point. It should be their choice. Joining any of the armed forces is not a decision anybody takes lightly. The risks are clear. But most will tell you that joining up is a vocation, that they feel happiest in their uniforms fighting for freedom for others and upholding what they believe is right. Why should this feeling be any different in males and females. Knowing that you can literally go out there and make a difference must be a feeling that most people aspire to.

The idea of the little woman sitting at home with nothing more ambitious than a husband and half a dozen kids to aspire to is held by very few these days. There are many reasons for this. Not to knock those that are happy with that life but surely this world is big enough for all sorts? Modern reasoning has brought with it the fact that women can have babies and rear them to be very productive young people as well as having a career, whether that be in the armed forces or not.

Go back one hundred years and the only uniform a woman wore were of the nursing type. This was our contribution towards the war efforts but time passed and by the Second World War, many women were in service, albeit as office based personnel. These days, it's not that unusual to see a female kitted out in combats and carrying a weapon, fighting alongside the men.

Many men are against this. They think that women get hormonal and temperamental but here's a little surprise for those men - we can actually exercise a little self control and realise that if we're on the front line watching the backs of our fellow soldiers, we can't sit down and cry that we have menstrual cramps so can we please go home!

Women deserve the right to make their own choices just as men do. If either sex wish to stay at home and look after the babies, or have a less stressful career then they should be left to do so. If men, or women, wish to take up a career in the armed services then they should also be allowed to without prejudice or anyone else enforcing their opinions. Sergeant Bryant paid dearly for her choice and we should all be grateful to her and her family rather than take it as an opportunity to disrespect all women.
About the Author
Careers expert Catherine Harvey looks at the issue of women in uniform and whether they should be on the front line.
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