For the first time in history, the elite Duvdevan Unit’s official doctor is a woman. Maj. Shani explains how she got the role, and why gender is no longer a factor to serving in some of the IDF (Zahal)’s most challenging roles.
Major Shani knew that she wanted to be a doctor in the IDF (Zahal) from high school. She decided to enlist in the academic reserves of the IDF (Zahal), and study medicine. The program allows soldiers to earn a degree, and then to become professional officers when they finish their studies.
After serving for two years as a doctor in the Kfir Brigade, Major Shani felt that she could do more. “I finished my role in the Kfir Brigade and I had the option to complete my military service. But I felt that it wasn’t enough,” she says. “Continuing was the right thing for me to do. I really wanted to do something significant and meaningful.”
Maj. Shani applied to several units, one of which was Duvdevan. Duvdevan is one of the most elite units in the IDF (Zahal), performing top-secret operations and leading the fight against terror. When she heard that she had been given the role, Maj. Shani was over the moon. “I feel that I got a rare opportunity to make change,” she says. “My family, friends and colleagues all supported me along the way and gave me all the encouragement I needed.”
Major Shani says that there is no difference between her and any of her male fellow doctors. “I’m not treated differently because I’m a woman and I’m not doing anything different because I’m a woman.” She mentions a conversation she had with the unit commander when she interviewed for the role: “If I’ll pick you for the job it won’t be because you’re a woman, and it won’t be despite the fact that you are a woman, he said.”
“There has never been a female doctor in an elite unit,” says Maj. Shani. “It’s time! I felt it was right for me, I’m ready for it, and I can act as a breakthrough for other women.” She has two crucial tip for other women who want to follow in her path: “If you have what it takes, don’t let anyone stop you. But more than that, don’t be afraid to try.”