Women in British Armed Forces

Women were allowed to join the British Armed Forces in almost all roles. This is except those roles that are commanding primary duty to get nearby or kill an enemy. Thus, there are women in the infantry, commando, armor, Special Air Service and Airfield Defense, among the few. They are also allowed access to the special force’s support units. They are also now cleared to join Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the unpopular branch of the United Kingdom Special Forces. To date, women account for about 9% of the entire UK armed forces. Female combatants could be found across the country’s long military history.

One of the pioneers was Queen Boudica. She led Iceni tribe warriors against a host of Roman forces in 62 AD. Her legacy has been often quoted and used to support arguments linked to calls for full acceptance of women in the national military. In 1776, about 5,000 women were accompanying British forces. Most of those women were spouses of high-ranking military officers. Many were plain wives of serving soldiers. During the time, women were only left behind in the camp while their spouses faced action. Some of them also served to accompany baggage trains, also serving as nurses or cooks.

The British Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was established during World War I. The body was first deployed in France in 1917. At that time, many officers and high-ranking officials were already considering giving men and women fairly equal treatment within the front. In the said war, women served as cooks, clerical staff, and medical personnel. They were still not allowed to become officers amid numerous disputes regarding compensation. The Women’s Royal Naval Service was formed about the same time, but was later disbanded in 1919. The body attended to administrative support and catering. They were also electrician and communications personnel.

The Auxiliary Territorial Service was formed in 1938. There were about 20,000 women in service, though they held non-combatant roles. Incorporated in the said service was the highly important First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. The following year, the service was reformed, this time with higher range of available shore-based opportunities. By 1949, women were formally recognized as permanent in the British armed forces. However, full combatant roles were still exclusive to men soldiers. Women’s Royal Army Corps emerged. 1950 came and women enjoyed normalized ranks of men in the military.

In 1992, women organizations in the military were disbanded. Then, women officers and soldiers were effectively distributed and scattered across units where men soldiers have been actively serving. In the 21st century, no less than the media is emphasizing the women’s role in armed forces as mothers of the military. Take note that the British Armed Forces’ commander-in-chief is a woman in the person of Queen Elizabeth II. However, her role and position is considered only nominal.

Today, many more women are aiming to join the ranks of military men. Women power truly lives. Perhaps, women have proven themselves right when they assert that what men could do, they could also do.

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