7 Countries Where Women Already Serve In Combat Units

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that he has decided it’s time for women to be allowed to fight in combat.

Of course, as Care2′s Jessica Pieklo wrote here, women have served in the front lines of the United States military for many years, but at least now they will actually be recognized for it.

The United States, however, is far from the first country to allow women to serve in combat roles. Over 20 other countries have already opened up this option, some of them many years ago. Here’s a look at seven countries around the world that officially permit women and men to serve on the front lines.


Photo Credit: MATEUS_27:24&25

1. Australia

In 2011, the Australian government announced that female soldiers would soon be able to serve in all front-line combat roles.


Photo Credit: damopabe

2. Brazil
Women officers are assigned to combat duty in Brazil, although they cannot fight on the front lines.


Photo Credit: damopabe

3. Canada
More progressive than most, Canada began admitting women into all military roles, including combat duty, in 1987. By 2006, the regular combat force numbered over 200 women, and over 900 women were in the reserve combat force.


Photo Credit: damopabe

4. Finland
Military service is still required for men in Finland, although for women it is voluntary. However, the women who do sign up are free to train for combat duty.


Photo Credit: damopabe

5. France
French women are allowed to serve alongside men in all areas except submarines and riot control. However, 1.7% of combat infantry soldiers are women. But I’m sure they are inspired by the French national hero, Joan of Arc, who in the 15th century led her troops against the English, before being burned alive as a heretic, at age 19.


Photo Credit: Alex92287

6. Israel
Since 2000, women in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have been allowed to serve in all areas of combat, although the number of women in combat is relatively small.


Photo Credit: nij.shrestha

7. Nepal

The Nepalese army is committed to maintaining a 5 percent female work force. Women of various ranks are currently employed in areas of combat, as well as combat support and combat service support arms.


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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

thanks. I love seeing progress

Patricia H.
Patricia H.2 years ago

interesting, thanks for sharing

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis2 years ago

"@ Pushpraj S. “men will always try instinctively to protect them”. I see thatyou are from India. Perhaps there they have an unusually strong tradition of protecting women ?"

If this is True, then:

Why is there so much hatred in India towards Women?

Why is the Rape Culture in India, as accepted, Blatant & Wide Spread, as it is?

Why is it OK, to Murder Female Babies?

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Pushpraj S. “men will always try instinctively to protect them”. I see thatyou are from India. Perhaps there they have an unusually strong tradition of protecting women ?

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Cathie S. “if we don't train our people than any country can come over and take over” True. The Taliban just might build boats and invade the US. Luckily the Vietnamese were prevented from any more than the ‘boat people’ had. And it’s obvious that US defense is not enough. Despite the wars the country is filling up with with Muslim daughter killers, Vietnamese restaurants and Mexican ‘reconquista’ activists. Obviously our Defense Department is unable to stop them.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Jo H. “It won't be long before many will change their mind”. You don’t understand the military. Changing your mind after enlistment is not an option. For a volunteer army , you should really first determine if the combat is for a purpose that you are willing to risk and lose life and limb for. It could be to defend your country or way of life, or it could be to simply protect US “interests”. {read; corporate profit}.Are you ready to participate in mass killing of innocents and the destruction of a country to eliminate a dictator put in place by the CIA who has decided to sell his country’s oil for currency other than petrodollars ? [ hint; the country’s name resembles a word for a big stone].This is true for everyone. For women there is also pregnancy, children that need their mother, and the possibility of being raped by the enemy as well as your comrades.

Pushpraj Singh
Pushpraj Singh2 years ago

One trouble with women serving in front line combat is that men will always try instinctively to protect them.
But as combat becomes more and more mechanized women are bound to fit better.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Judy, for Sharing this!

Robby Reyes
Past Member 2 years ago


don wreford
don wreford2 years ago

All war is to work within the framework of the individuals cultural identity of me belonging to more of the me's that have the same mind set of collective programming that forms where your birth place or mainstream identity resides.
Do you remember choosing to be a resident in any Country of this World? I am not aware that I chose to be born in London, I do know the British Government decided I should become a conscript, under the pretense of referee status called peace keepers to suppress uprisings between Greeks and Turks, in Cyprus, I now believe more to the truth, the British Government were implicated in British interests such as Suez Canal interests and oil supplies.
This scenario is typical of the informed and the uninitiated, the prior is the Government interests and the latter being the class that is not informed, who do the dirty work for the managers, the question is, why would anyone other than those who are at a lose end? requiring a job, let alone whether female or otherwise, want to do it?
As we live now in a so called Global World, who are the enemy?
The rapid pace of this World makes it increasingly difficult to define who the enemy is? other than the Elite's of the Controlling decision makers who will make money from war or uprisings, at the expense of the taxpayer.