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COMBAT RESTRICTIONS DEPLORED IN NEW WREI REPORT ON WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

 WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 ~PRNewswire~ -- "For women to accept gender- based restrictions on women's roles and responsibilities in the military is to compromise the legitimacy of women's claim to the full rights of citizenship," Betty Dooley, executive director for the Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI), said while announcing the release of proceedings from the international conference on women in the military held earlier this year.
 Presentations by military women and scholars from Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Israel, as well as the United States, are among those contained in the publication, Women in the Military: International Perspectives. Release of the WREI document is being timed to coincide with a report issued by the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.
 Surveying the situation across the NATO alliance, University of Maryland professor Mady Segal said: "Although the U.S. still has the highest percentage of women -- about 11 percent -- of any NATO country ... there are now six NATO nations that have gone beyond the U.S. in integrating women in their armed forces. Some or all combat roles, including direct offensive combat positions, have been opened to women in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom."
 At the conference, Judith Stiehm, professor at Florida International University, emphasized that "the link between full citizenship and the obligation to participate in the defense of one's country is obvious." Dooley added, "So is the link between second class citizenship for women in the military and the lack of women involved in making defense policy."
 Conference participants agreed that you can't make the excuse that barring women from combat will keep them out of danger -- Desert Storm taught us that. "Being designated a combatant or non-combatant has very little to do with who lives and who dies in modern war," added U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm (ret).
 Canadian Associate Minister for National Defense Mary Collins noted that all positions except submarine crew are open to Canada's military women. She continued: "The employment of women in Canada's military forces has never been restricted by law. Instead, military personnel policies have reflected the values expressed by Canadian society. As society has changed, so has the role of women in the military."
 Canadian women serve as fighter pilots, artillery officers, and armored crew members, among other jobs. Collins explained that Canadian forces are developing physical standards that are independent of gender but that are specific to the field of occupation. Collins said: "You know how they said women couldn't fly fighter plans -- nonsense! We know that women are often better physically able than men to adjust to G-force. ... The reality is that women make just as good fighter pilots as men."
 Similarly, Lt. Col. Susan Burwell of the British Army said, "In the future, any limitation on the employment of women (in the British forces) is likely to relate to their physical ability to carry out the task effectively rather than to the implications of combat."
 The publication released today was undertaken as part of WREI's project on women in the military, which was implemented in 1990 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. The WREI project gathers and disseminates information about women in the military.
 The Women's Research and Education Institute, founded in 1977, is an independent, national, public policy research and education center. WREI's mission is to identify issues affecting women and their roles in the family, workplace, and public arena, and to inform and help shape the public policy debate on these issues.
 Copies of the proceedings, Women in the Military: International Perspectives, are available to the public through WREI, 1700 18th St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20009, 202-328-7070. There is a charge for the publication.
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 ~CONTACT: Beth Strode for The Women's Research and Education Institute, 202-452-9447~


CO: The Women's Research and Education Institute ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

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