IDF to hold 1st int'l conference on women in army

"In the IDF, 90 percent of the different positions and roles are open to women," the General Staff's Adviser on Female Affairs says.

idf women 88 (photo credit: )
idf women 88
(photo credit: )
In an effort to promote the integration of women in the IDF, the General Staff's Adviser on Female Affairs Brig.-Gen. Yehudit Grisaro will host Israel's first-ever international conference in September with participants from around the world on the role of women in the military. The conference will begin on September 7, last three days and include a number of panels focusing on the role women play in militaries worldwide. Participants will also visit several bases throughout the country and hear about female combat soldiers' and officers' experiences firsthand. Grisaro said Sunday that she first came up with the idea for the conference in November following a work trip she made to Chile and Argentina where she met with government ministers and top generals. "In Chile, the president is female and she also used to be the defense minister," Grisaro told The Jerusalem Post from her office at the Kirya General Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv. "She has decided to promote the issue of female integration in the military and looks to us as an example." The reason why Israel is an example is obvious for Grisaro. "In the IDF, 90 percent of the different positions and roles, including combat positions, are open to women," she said, adding that no other country in the world drafts women by law as Israel has since its establishment 60 years ago. Today, 38% of soldiers and 26% of officers in the IDF are women. "In most of the rest of the world, the percentages are in single digits," she said. Grisaro came up with the idea for the international conference together with the IDF's Foreign Liaison Unit at the IDF Planning Division, which supports the initiative since it can help promote Israel's military relations with other countries. Grisaro said that during her trip abroad she discovered that all militaries faced similar challenges in trying to integrate women. "There is a common denominator and the challenges are the same when it comes to biased opinions and the fact that the military is predominantly masculine," she explained. "The difference between different militaries is the question where you are in the process [of integrating women]." Grisaro recently held a one-day seminar for foreign military attachés in Israel and gave them a presentation on the role of women in the IDF, after which she asked them to drum up interest in their home countries for the upcoming September conference. She has also sent out invitations to various militaries and defense ministries around the world. The IDF, she said, had made it its policy to integrate women into as many positions and units as possible and it was up to the various branches and corps to decide how to implement that policy. "The motto needs to be 'women are equal but different,'" she said, giving as an example the Air Force's decision to trade in the heavy metal ladders that were used to climb onto jets for aluminum ones that could be pushed by women. "If a branch wants women, it needs to adapt themselves to [their] different needs."