13 Countries That Already Allow Women In Combat

The United States is not the first to open combat roles to women. Over a dozen other countries have allowed it for years.

1. Canada

Canada’s progressive military started allowing women into all military roles, including combat roles like fighter pilot, in 1987. As of 2006, over 200 women were part of the regular combat force and over 900 were part of the reserve combat force.

2. Israel

David Silverman / Getty Images

Women in the Israeli Defense Force serve in all areas of combat, and have since 2000. In reality, however, they make up a relatively small proportion of the IDF’s combat troops.

3. Finland

In Finland, military service is required for men, while it is voluntary for women. If women do choose to enlist, they’re allowed to train for combat roles.

4. Poland

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Poland allows women in close combat, but as of 2008, there were only 1153 female soldiers in the entire Polish Army. There are a few female Platoon commanders, and at least one woman serving in a combat unit.

Poland only started accepting women into its military academies in 1999, and those women didn’t graduate until 2003, so female service members have only been part of the military in Poland for about a decade.

5. Norway

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Norway has no combat restrictions in its military and was the first NATO country to allow women on submarines. Women in the Norwegian armed forces are also allowed to wear religious headwear, like a hijab.

6. Denmark

Women in Denmark have been fully included and welcome in all military roles since 1988. According to a recent report, in the Danish military “there have been no reported difficulties with employing women in combat roles.”

7. France

Eric Gaillard / Reuters

French women can serve in all military posts except for submarines and riot control. Though women are allowed to serve in other combat roles, only 1.7% of combat infantry soldiers are women.

8. Romania

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As of 2008, 58 Romanian women had served in combat roles in Iraq, and many have also done so in Afghanistan. The Romanian military has said they’ve had no problems with men and women working together on the same combat teams.

9. Germany

Tobias Schwarz / Reuters

The German military has allowed women in all military roles since 2001, spurred partially by female engineer’s official complaint about the matter in 1996. In the five years following, female military enrollment tripled, as a military career became a more attractive option for women. As of 2006, about 800 women were serving in combat roles.

10. Sweden

Staff / Reuters

Swedish women are allowed to serve in all parts of the military. Female soldiers in Sweden have complained about the military-issued sports bras, which they say unhook easily and are flammable.

11. The Netherlands

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Dutch military technically lifted all restrictions on women serving in combat roles in 1979, but women still don’t serve in the Marines or Submarine Service. In the Navy, 33% of female soldiers are in combat roles, but in the army, it’s only 13%.

12. Australia

Lukas Coch-Pool / Getty Images

Australia announced it would open combat roles to women in September 2011.

13. New Zealand

Marty Melville / Getty Images

New Zealand dropped its restrictions on women in close combat in 2001 and now has female soldiers serving in all branches of the military.

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