Affirmative action programs have played a significant role in providing opportunities for the minorities and women in their quest to take their rightful places in different societies. Nonetheless, this is not all encompassing as equal opportunity still evades them in different fields. This discrepancy is particularly true in the case of women. Eliminating or curtailing affirmative action may halt the progress that has been witnessed, or worse still cause the development to be nonexistent altogether. That opportunity should be provided for all in every conceivable area is not debatable. This is in spite of the fact that in our current society, which is as patriarchal as in past decades, discrimination against women is still rampant. In the military, sexual discrimination is deeply entrenched, justified with some flimsy reasons that retrogressive people always front. However, in the recent past, this tight grip in matters is slowly abating, but more needs to be done. Although military commanders reserve the right to include or exclude women from combat, higher laws need to be put in place to ensure that women are accorded equal opportunity as their male counterparts.
One of the main reasons given as to why women should not be in the military is the physical differences between men and women. This argument is invalid as women have proven that given an opportunity, they can do as much as the men or even surpass them. Some people have argued that women may not pass the rigorous training that is required, while others hypothesize that integrating them in the infantry would harm unit cohesion and reduce its effectiveness (Klimas, 2015). However, as long as the women qualify, their gender is arbitrary. Secondly, it is a universal truth that women are more efficient and effective in some situations, particularly those that involve interpersonal skills. Subsequently, allowing women in the infantry increases the talent pool, and resolution of sensitive conflicts is a guarantee. Lastly, and more importantly, enabling women to serve reduces sexism. Combat duty is a prerequisite for senior officer promotions, and denying them this opportunity means that they are locked out, subsequently having very few women at the top and thus entrenching sexism.
It is time for a paradigm shift. Women need to serve their country in whatever capacity. However, this is only possible if the country abandons cultural traditions that are retrogressive and embrace progressive ideas. Bakken (2013) hypothesizes that owing to the perceived differences and disadvantages of allowing women to serve, it is highly unlikely that military rules will ever be in favor of women or provide equal opportunity to them. He asserts that this is unless a higher law, for instance, affirmative action, mandates it. This will help in dealing with the stereotypes of women, which have made sexual assault and harassment a ubiquitous phenomenon (Bakken, 2013). This is certainly doable as the military in the past has succeeded in providing gay, lesbians, and even married gay soldiers with benefits and rights equal to those enjoyed by heterosexual couples. In fact, the military has displayed concerted efforts and commitment to the affirmative action in respect to racial minorities. However, when it comes to women, it has failed and its mission to “represent the country it defends” will remain a mirage. Concisely, for the military to reflect the face of the nation it serves, women must fully be incorporated.
Bakken, T. (2013). Woman Soldier’s Right to Combat: Equal Protection in the Military. William. & Mary Journal of Women and Law. 20 (2), 271.
Klimas, J. (2015, March 19). Integrating women into combat reduces effectiveness, harms unit cohesion. The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/19/problems-women-combat-cant-be-mitigated-report/
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