Equal Rights for Men and Women in Combat

CAPTION: Since Private Heather R. Erxleben became the first woman to serve in a combat role in 1989, other women like Corporal Venessa Larter (seen here) have gone on to do the same. CREDIT: Sergeant Carole Morissette, forces.gc.ca

Canada is one of only a few countries in the world that allow women to serve on the front lines in combat. But it was not always so. While women have served in Canada's military since 1885, they were prevented from performing combat roles for over one hundred years.

Four members of the Canadian Forces set out to change this. They believed it was wrong that women were prevented from having roles in combat positions or combat-related jobs, just because they were women.

Isabelle Gauthier, Marie-Claude Gauthier, Georgina Anne Brown and Joseph Houlden, all members of the Canadian Forces, filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act claiming discrimination based on sex. In 1989, following a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling, the Canadian Forces opened all occupations, including combat roles, to women.

In 1989, Private Heather R. Erxleben became Canada's first female Regular Force infantry soldier. Since then, hundreds of Canadian women have served in combat roles, and all women have the opportunity to pursue any position in the Canadian Forces.

Visit the Canadian Armed Forces website.


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