Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Female soldier push up training at military air force base Sean Murphy/Getty Images

Why We Need Women in the Military

As the nature of the military’s tasks changes in many regions, women's potential contributions become even more valuable. To enable women to realize this potential, however, persistent discrimination and other challenges – related, for example, to sexual harassment, health, and work-life balance – must be addressed.

ISLAMABAD – Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to serve in the military – part of its Vision 2030 economic-reform program – has been widely celebrated as a step forward for gender parity in the notoriously unequal kingdom. But, when women begin to enlist, the battle for real equality within the military will have just begun.

Beyond the explicit constraints that are expected – women will probably have to secure approval from their legal male guardians, and may be limited to non-combat roles – there is the need to dismantle the military’s rigid patriarchal systems. This will be a difficult feat, requiring sustained government commitment, effective organizational planning, and deep personal fortitude from the women who enlist.

I should know. In 2001, I was one of the first women to join the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). But the road was not easy.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/vJ5nOwG;

Handpicked to read next

Saudi Woman Driver MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s Revolution From Above

Joschka Fischer
  • After becoming the heir apparent to the Saudi throne earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has quickly consolidated his power and begun to usher in a period of radical change. 
  • But as he overhauls the country's domestic and foreign policies, he is also heightening the risk of another conflict in the Middle East.

  1. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.
    0
  2. skidelsky148_Matt Dunham - WPA PoolGetty Images_boris johnson cabinet Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

    The Monetarist Fantasy Is Over

    Robert Skidelsky

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, determined to overcome Treasury resistance to his vast spending ambitions, has ousted Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid. But Johnson’s latest coup also is indicative of a global shift from monetary to fiscal policy.

    0