Today marks the International Woman’s Day with many people dealing with the question of Gender equality. But for the female combat soldiers of the IAF Air Defense Division, equality is reality
Naomi Zoreff | Translation: Eden Sharon
While many deliberate whether or not to celebrate Woman’s Day and how, ponder over gender equality and examine the progress made in the subject during the past year, others take actions.
The third female soldiers’ preparatory course at the IAF Air Defense School was opened last week. In these very moments, the female combat soldiers of tomorrow are conducting shooting practice, field training and marches and learning about the weapon systems of the Air Defense Division.
Today, 25% of the soldiers in every draft cycle are female soldiers and the IAF maintain that ratio in the vocational courses and officers and battery commanders training courses.
“I became a combat soldier because I believe that women are equally and sometimes even more competent that man”, says Private Meytar Cohen, a cadet in the course. “In my opinion, women should not have a shorter service period or have positions they cannot fill”.
A Balanced, Family Atmosphere
Lieutenant Omer, Commander of the preparatory course, also began her way as a combat soldier in the Air Defense Division. She was positioned as a combat soldier in a “Patriot” battery and continued to the officers’ training course and then she became a troop commander in the battery.
“As a combat soldier, I did things I never believed I could do, especially physically. The women in the battery are outnumbered, so you suddenly notice that most of your friends there are actually men”, she says and adds that her best friends today are her fellow soldiers.
“It is important that the women in the division have high motivation for meaningful service”, shares Lieutenant Omer. “At the end of the day, we are all combat soldiers”. Lieutenant Omer says that she was never treated differently as a woman. “I believe that the combination of men and women in the division creates a more balanced, family atmosphere. I never felt any kind of disrespect on the part of my soldiers; on the contrary, sometimes it was easier for them to discuss certain issued with me”.
The first draft cycle to incorporate women as combat soldiers set off in August 1998 and the demand for serving in the division is immense. “All the women who are intended to draft in the division begin with the preparatory course”, says Lieutenant Omer. “They begin two weeks before the men and receive a sneak peek at their service”. The goal of the preparatory course is to allow the women to examine their compatibility to the job and they can renounce the position based on their discretion.