Women soldiers are here to stay

Letters, Normal

IN ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle argued over women being involved in combat roles.
Joan of Arc led the French army to victory over the Englishmen in 1429. 
In the last quarter of the 20th century, women were deployed for active duty around the world. 
Our Government, through the 1999 Defence White Paper, proposed for an initial 20 women to be employed by the PNGDF and be given equal employment opportunities as stipulated in our Constitution.
Ten years on, we have women officers in the legal branch, the Air Transport Wing and the Medical Corp. 
A total of 23 young women are breaking new grounds at the PNGDF Goldie Training Depot. 
The barracks has been a traditional training ground for our soldiers since its inception in 1967.
The women officers must be congratulated for making it this far.
Now that they are here to stay, how do I see their role in the military setting? 
What is expected from them? 
Are the PNGDF units ready to receive them into their organisations as women soldiers?
I believe some women soldiers will experience, to some degree, a conflict of role. 
Traditionally, women’s roles are to bear and nurture children. They give life, sustain life, and nurture life – they do not take it.
The PNGDF women undergoing basic military training at Goldie Barracks know this, yet they participate wholeheartedly and, hopefully, make a career in the PNGDF.
Some male soldiers find it hard to accept women are training alongside them, but that is only normal. 
Over time, the men will have to accept the fact that women will continue to serve the force.
The danger of putting men and women together is it could lead to sexual relationship.
It could also lead to sexual assault or sexual harassment.
To prevent this from happening, it is important to conduct sexual harassment awareness.
We can also learn from our neighbours Australia and New Zealand how they deal with it.
The areas that need to be looked at are: 
* Recruiting – what criteria to be used?  
* Training – should it be designed or tailored to suit women?
* Accommodation and facilities – the cost involved and will it matter during operations and exercises?
* Crew – how do we integrate women in our naval element?  
* Posting/duties – policies for posting, rostering of duties, etc.
* Career planning; and
* Personal planning.
In our society where a man is the figurehead, will a woman commander command the same respect, that is, if the Government were to appoint a woman as commander?
We are living in a modern world and we have to accept that more women will join the force.
I suppose it is only a matter of time before we see our women soldiers in combat duty too.


Hela wigman warrior
Port Moresby