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The IDF is working on passing new legislation in an effort to stem the number of teenage girls who receive exemptions from military service, a high-ranking female officer told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday ahead of International Women's Day that will be marked on Thursday.
Annually, 42 percent of Israeli women at age to serve in the IDF ask for and receive exemptions from the military on the claim that they are religious and cannot serve in a masculine military environment.
"We are working on changes to legislation that will put an end to this phenomenon and lower the number," the high-ranking officer said. "The changes to the law will make it more difficult to get an exemption with the religious claim."
According to the officer, 30% of the IDF today is made up of female soldiers, although only 2%- 1,000-1,500 - serve in combat units. Most recently, female soldiers were allowed to enlist in Field Intelligence Units and over the coming year the IDF hopes to open new opportunities in infantry and artillery units. Female soldiers need to volunteer to serve in combat units and serve for three years, like males, as opposed to the standard two years of service.
"We are in the midst of a process to better integrate women in the IDF," the officer said. "In the end, we hope to see a military with more opportunities for women and more open to a woman's role."
Another issue that the Chief of Staff's advisor on women's affairs in the IDF is working on is creating more opportunities for women to climb military ranks. Today, there are three female brigadier generals and some 20 colonels. The number has remained the same for the past several years.
"It would be a mistake to judge the advancement of women in the IDF by these numbers," explained the officer. "Instead what needs to be evaluated is the number of important positions female officers hold in the IDF. With that, there has been an improvement."