Not long ago, roles and positions associated with combat and direct engagement with the “enemy” were reserved strictly for men. To imagine a woman on the front line would have shaken all cultural norms and ideas of femininity. Conditions have changed, of course, and for over 20 years Canada has allowed women to serve in virtually all military trades, including combat arms. South of the border, however, the official inclusion of women into infantry combat units has been slow to materialize; only last month was the “ban” lifted. Consequently, discussions and debates have ensued over the feasibility of women serving on the front lines. Are they physically capable? Will their presence jeopardize the safety of their comrades?

The first video, from Global News, looks at women in both the Canadian and American militaries, and their current roles and contributions in combat. Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense, affirms that there is no reason women should not be permitted in combat units if they can meet the necessary qualifications. The second video examines multiple perspectives of the issue, considering the physical strength of women, the restrictions that have been lifted by the US military, and the changing nature of warfare.

For some more information on women in both Canadian and American combat units, visit The Washington Post‘s article from 7 February 2013, “Canada’s military is 13 years ahead of the US in admitting women to combat units”.