Has in the army can be beneficial as

Has the increased inclusion of women changed the
“gendering” of soldiers?

The army has been male dominant throughout history in
all parts of the world and there are many commonly discussed matters or
concerns regarding the impact of women and gender perspectives. One of the
major concerns is that generally, women are not suitable for war due to their
lower physical abilities and supposed lack of mental fortitude which may lead
to a decrease in combat effectiveness of the units. The other challenge is the
idea that the inclusion of women and gender perspectives in the army will
disrupt the cohesion within teams and within military culture. The current
military training and operations is regarded as ideal by existing standards and
any change in standards or the methods used in training will be negative
especially if they are imposed through political leadership. However, the UN
states the need for female soldiers and gender perspectives when carrying out
certain tasks in peace operations the aims of civilians and the military
overlap (Peacekeeping.un.org, 2018). This essay will explore the ways women
have increased their participation rates and the what extent this increase has
changed the gendering of soldiers.

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The idea that the current methods for maintaining unit
cohesion is perfect is proven to be false as traditional training methods are
being changed regardless of gender issues. Problems such as collective
punishment, racism and homophobic slurs have been solved by new methods used by
drill sergeants. On top of changing training methods, the inclusion of women in
the army can be beneficial as they can also act as role models to the local
community by inspiring women and girls in male dominated environments to
believe in themselves and to never forget their own rights as well as the goal
of peace. These views may be significantly different to the traditional methods
used in the military, however, they may prove to be useful in the modern-day
operations within the army.

The traditional view from military theorists describe
military capability as the mix of physical factors, conceptual factors and
morale factors. This is also seen as the size of the army, the management of
the army and the willpower of the soldiers (Brooks, 2003). Whilst there have
been several debates on where the emphasis has been placed, there has often
been an overemphasis placed on physical military qualities such as the number
of troops and the advancement of the technology used whilst putting less
emphasis on intangible qualities such as morale, education and culture (Smith,
2007). This overemphasis can be seen when battles that have had lower numbers
and worse technology have been victorious which proves that military
capabilities are misleading, especially when used as a measurement for the
implementation of military policies (Biddle, 2010). Women in the military
provide many specific benefits and perspectives that lead to an improved
conduct of operations. Their inclusion in combat units as well as their views
on certain matters has the potential to increase the efficiency of data
gathering and analysis of units. Allowing women to join the army gives access
to local communities leading to an increased task force which can help when
trying to gain a better understanding of local conditions and its culture. One
of the most important roles of women in the army derives from the mixed
engagement teams, cultural analysts or interpreters of which provide access to
areas that all-male groups cannot enter. Female liaison officers have the potential
to unite the military and humanitarian organisations which have historically
had tension between the two groups due to the male dominance of the army
(Mychajlyszyn and Shaw, 2005). 

Although the army is taking measures to include more
women in the army, women only make up ten percent of the total workforce. It
has been seen that women play a huge role when gathering local intelligence
from other local women in towns and villages that fear for their lives and opt
to speak to female soldiers instead (BBC News,2012). The Royal Air Force has
become the first service to accept women for all roles within their teams which
is a huge step in reducing the “gendering” of soldiers that apply. This is to
be emphasised further when the Royal Marine Commandos open applications as well
for both genders. Ground close combat missions was strictly closed off to men
only and in 2018 is looking to allow both genders to apply for the role and
those who pass the rigorous tests will be allowed to participate (BBC News, 2018).
Problems such as lack of cohesion and the increased threat of injury for women
has raised concerns but can be rectified through increased training and
leadership and the new measures are being monitored closely (Gov.uk, 2018). Attracting
more women in general, increases the pool of candidates and improves the
chances of finding the best recruits regardless of gender which is one of the
main arguments for de-gendering of troops. Troops are not only required to
provide military actions, but they must also be trained in humanitarian
missions which means soldiers need different skill sets which may be fulfilled
by the women that apply due to the decreased regulations.

One of the main problems with recruiting more women
year on year to the military is the fact that some straightforward issues are
not addressed. Combat uniforms designed for women do not exist but would
provide more incentive for women and give them a sense of belonging. These
actions may lead women to thinking that they are an afterthought as they are
still a minority in the army. The army also causes many developments in civil
society to be avoided. The topics of individualism, racial and gender
integration and lesbian, bisexual, gay and LGBT rights have been left avoided
by the military when these topics do not actually harm the effectiveness of the
organisation. Previously, there have been many societies which joined together
without any problems such as the LGBT and African American community. This
leads to the question as to why women in combat and implementation of gender
perspectives would be detrimental, if not even beneficial to the army. The
debate on unit cohesion doesn’t have historical data to provide a strong
argument, but in recent years, the integration of women in non-combat parts of
the army in other regions of the world has led to zero negative effects. Aside
from the military, in the corporate world, the integration of women and
equality policies that are introduced to companies have seen improved business
efficiencies and other positive effects. Tony King, a professor that studied
and compared the impact of integrating women in different countries, with a
focus on unit cohesion. He finds that in the current state of the army, it is
not gender which affects the unit cohesion, but rather the training and
competence of the soldiers. The social cohesion is not the limiting factor
whereas the professional and task orientated form of cohesion is (King, 2013).

Gender mainstreaming is the current approach taken
when assessing the different outcomes for men and women as a result of plans,
policies and activities. The United Nations Security Council has created
resolution UNSCR 1325 which tries to push implementation of gender perspectives
forward in peacekeeping and peacebuilding when carrying out peace missions led
by the United Nations (Un.org, 2000). The goal of this resolution is to achieve
gender equality and reaffirms the importance of women in the prevention of
conflicts and peace related missions. This resolution works towards helping
women by protecting them from sexual abuse in armed conflict. This movement
also signals to the broader military organisations that gender perspectives
have significant benefits. The empowerment that women feel when they are making
an impact and contributing positively to one of the most masculine and
patriarchal societies of them all, implies that they have very few objects in
their way regarding women’s participation in our wider society.

One of the most challenging tasks it the method by
which women will be implemented into the military. The argument of working
towards gender equality and the UNSCR 1325 is not strong enough to sway the
military leaders from the imperative need for defence of the nation. The notion
of gender equality may be agreed upon by the military leaders but a simple
“rights-based” approach may not lead to any change. Instead, the challenge is
to convince the military leaders that it would be beneficial for the military
to implement women and strengthen the army and increase efficiency when
carrying out core tasks. The focus therefore must not be on a feminist agenda,
but more on improving the efficiency of existing roles and the methods they are
carried out. Diane Otto highlights the fact that the ideologies behind UNSCR
1325 limits itself to “inside” strategies which means that it is constricted to
working within the mainstream institutions rather than the more profound work
done outside of them (Otto, 2009). Military organisations, although for the
most part are the protectors of society, are often the ones to blame for some
of the worst cases of sexual harassment and assault around military camps in
peacetime (Cloud, 2013). This leads to the issue for feminists and the approach
they take when confronting military organisations reading these topics and
whether a more transformative method needs to be implemented to make a
definitive change for the better. The differences between gender balancing and
gender mainstreaming are both strategies that support UNSCR 1325, however, the
ease of implementing gender balancing is assumed to be easier than gender
mainstreaming (Kronsell, 2012). The statistics show that the recruitment of
women has become more prevalent in the Western world, but there is a struggle
to implement a gender perspective. It is important that the women that sign up
to the military are not simply advocates of women’s rights but are doing so for
similar reasons to men; for the belief in the cause to defend and protect the
nation and respect the professionalism of military culture.

The incentive behind the creation of military forces
is to defend the nation from threats, but the military is controlled to also
achieve political aims. Their main priority is not to improve women’s rights
and therefore becomes problematic when partnering with women’s rights
activists. The progress made by implementing UNSCR 1325 was a huge first step
in reducing the gendering on soldiers as seen by the gradual shift in
responsibilities given to women in the army. The removal of the restriction for
women to carry out ground armed combat as well as the opportunity to apply to
any role within certain departments of the military show that both men and
women are treated equally and are only limited by the physical ability to pass.
Change takes time and the slow improvement in conditions for women as well as
the proof that women are an important asset to the military by providing many
beneficial key competencies in peace missions, proves that the very
traditional, egotistical and male dominated sector is implementing changes and
slowly removing the gendering of soldiers.