Gender Roles: Iraq and Afghanistan Wars


During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many roles changed for women. Women were given countless tasks in this war that they had never had before. Men’s roles stayed basically the same in the war zone, but at home some changed.

Women are becoming more frequent in the military. 7% of all marines are women and they are able to obtain 93% of the jobs available. In2009, the first all-female team of marines conducted their first mission in southern Afghanistan. This mission led the women to come into contact with the women in Afghanistan. A female team was sent out on this mission because it is considered culturally unacceptable for the men to interact with the women. Along with women in the marines, they also make up 15% of the army. In the army, women are able to obtain 95% of the jobs available. Jobs that are not available include direct combat on the ground. Though just recently there was a memo rescinding this law.

The original policy preventing women from direct combat on the ground was established by Secretary of Defense, Lee Aspin, in 1993. Although he stated women were allowed to train and assign on most combat ships and aircraft, women are prohibited from direct combat. In 2013, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta signed a memo rescinding that portion of the policy. Beginning in 2014, women are  allowed to participate in direct combat on the ground. With this being done, the percentage of jobs in the military available to women will increase by multiple points. In the army alone, 33,000 jobs are supposed to be opened up to women in 2014.

In comparison to World War ll, the strides made in women being immersed into the military are huge. During World War ll, women assisted in war efforts while on the home front. They stayed at home to take care of the house and kids, while sometimes having a job in a local factory. Women took over the roles of men at home when they were away. For the small group of women working with the military, their jobs mainly included nurses, secretaries and pilots. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan roles have changed drastically. Now, women are able to perform almost all of the same duties as men. Although women are not quite treated as equals yet, great strides have been made.

Few roles remained constant throughout all of the wars. In all of the wars, men have been involved in all aspects of the military. For centuries, men have fought on the front lines putting their lives in constant danger. While the men are in the war, most women continue to stay at home and take care of the children. Women send care packages from home in support of their loved ones away.


Works Cited

Women Marines Association. “Women’s Marine History.” Women Marines Association. Global Graffiti Inc., 2002. Web. 15 Apr 2014.

Army Women’s Museum. “Interactive Timeline.” Women in the US Army. U.S. Army. Web. 15 Apr 2014.

Burton, Monty, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. “United States Department of Defense.” News Article: All-Female Marine Team Conducts First Mission in Southern Afghanistan. American Forces Press Service, 10 Mar 2009. Web. 28 Apr 2014.


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