The final prohibition on women serving in close combat roles in the British armed forces was lifted by the Ministry of Defence in October 2018. With immediate effect, women already serving in the army could transfer into infantry roles. Future recruits will begin basic training in April 2019. By doing so, the UK armed force’s recruitment policy reflects other NATO allies, such as Norway, Canada and the US, which similarly have no gender restrictions on serving in infantry units.
Considering differing national experiences with women personnel, this panel discusses the international landscape of women’s involvement in armed forces worldwide and the opportunities and challenges of further integrating women into close combat roles. Will practical and cultural challenges restrict all but a select few female recruits into the most physically demanding and culturally masculine roles in the armed forces? How can armed forces attract more women to enlist? And what national models and experiences can the UK and other states follow when considering how to best recruit and integrate women into close combat roles?
Major Heloise Goodley, CGS Visiting Fellow, Chatham House
Kjersti Klæboe, Director General, Department of Competence and Joint Legal Services, Norwegian Ministry of Defence
Ewan Lawson, Senior Research Fellow, Military Sciences, RUSI
Chair: Dr Beyza Unal, Senior Research Fellow, Nuclear Weapons Policy, International Security Department, Chatham House