Canadian women have long history in the Armed Forces

WatchOver 15% of Canadians serving in the military right now are women and the goal is to increase that to 25% by 2026

Visitors to the Comox Air Force Museum learn about the important role Canadian women played in the Second World War.

“Over 17,000 women joined the RCAF women’s division and they served in 65 different trades in support of combat,” said Comox Air Force Museum Deputy Director Sgt. Michael O’Rourke.

Of the 1.1 million Canadians who served the Second World War, 50,000 in total were women, most of them supporting the war effort in Canada.

That was 4.5 per cent of all who served.

“Women joined the RCAF for all the same reasons men did,” added O’Rourke. “They joined for a job, for adventure and to serve their country.”

Those numbers dropped off dramatically to a percentage near zero in the 1950s and 1960s but slowly began to rise again and is now at over 15%.

Canada has a goal of having 25 per cent women in the military by 2026 and is one of only about 3 counties in the world that allow women in every role, including combat.

Many of the women in today’s Canadian military are high ranking officials like Lieutenant Colonel Rhonda Stevens who is the Commanding Officer of 442 Search and Rescue Squadron at 19 Wing Comox.

“From my first posting here in Comox 20 years ago to today, I know at 442 Squadron we certainly have a larger female cadre that’s for sure,” said Stevens.

She says her 26-year career in the military has been nothing but positive.

“Our doors are open and we’re actively recruiting men and women. I would encourage anyone to join. I’ve certainly had a really, really great career so far and look forward to more years of serving,” she said.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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