Female participation in the military

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Over the recent past, women have encountered opposition in their involvement in the military sphere, which still dominated by men to date (United Nations. Secretary-General, 2002). Both history and understanding of woman’s participation in warfare, the military and combat have resulted in very rigid beliefs, perception, and ideologies. Such stereotypical ideals of “soldiers,” the “military,” “warriors” and the presumed tradition regarding roles of female and male have previously been and continue to be used to as the reasons to thwart participation of women within the military (Oswald, 2008). Also, the stereotypes above are implicated in the portrayal and perception that women in the military are not “soldiers” similar to their male counterparts (Karim and Beardsley, 2013). However, women could serve or participate in select combat units including the Special Air Service (SAS) within the British Army. Such is after the Prime Minister David Cameron lifted the ban on the roles of women in close ground fighting within the British Army.

Throughout history, women have had a complex and continual participation in warfare and combat (Blanchard, 2003). Such involvement whether voluntarily or otherwise is in most cases over-shadowed by men assistance.  Inclusion and involvement of women in modern militaries since the dawn of 21st Century have been cloaked in controversy and debate (Duncanson, 2008). Even today, the roles and achievements are dominated by prejudices and various unfavorable public cases concerning female military personnel (Dharmapuri, 2013).

The challenge of women participation within the British Army has been for a long time a problem of presumptions and stereotypes as asserted by Fracarolli et al. (2015). Stereotypical ideals of “soldiers,” the “military,” “warriors” and the presumed tradition female and male roles are the primary reason behind the current inequality witnessed within the service (Kuziemko and Werker, 2006). The critics of the ban lifted by the Prime Minster David Cameron argue that women are not suitable for rigours of combat and that it would undermine the fighting power of the Armed Forces. However, the implication of the rule is that women have been banned from Army infantry, armoured regiments, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Regiment, Royal Marines and battalions.

As a solution to the above challenges, the removal of the ban will increase women opportunities to serve in diverse roles and ensure effective utilisation of the Armed forces talents. Given that, women are twice as likely to agonise breaks and severe muscle injuries; the British Military will overhaul its training techniques to minimise injuries.

Through your support as a committee, the above move will take effect. Based on such, the move will allow female soldiers to participate in armoured units by the end of 2016 and have the opportunity to apply by the end of 2018 all jobs related to close ground combat. The removal of the ban is a significant step in making the British Armed Forces world class and one that mirror the current society.

Improving Access to Female Hygiene Products

In the recent past, the need for improved access to female hygiene products has intensified, driven by private demand and public efforts to enhance female educational outcomes and health along with dignity (Addicott et al. 2013). However, many girls and women particularly the homeless cannot access female hygiene products due to financial constraints. Although the choice of sanitary protection is an individual decision, it is based on user preferences and cultural acceptability. Also, female or women’s access to funds, environment, affordable options and water supply influences their access to sanitary products. Menstrual cups and other reusable technologies are less expensive than disposable pads in the long run and a viable option for women (Andrew, 2010). However, such reusable technologies are associated with exorbitant purchase and learning costs as well as psychological barriers. Based on such, it is worth for any programme aimed at supporting female access to hygiene products to address the above issues in planning deliberations (Millington and Bolton, 2015).  In the United Kingdom, the government refused to classify female hygiene products as essential items. Last year, the British government won a vote by 305 to 287 that prevented the abolition of the 5% “tampon tax.”

Over the years, the management of menstrual hygiene has been ignored priority and seldom appears in national government policies, donor strategies or advocacy agendas (Chin, 2014). Following a meeting held by Save the Children, Water AID, UNICEF and UNESCO, a global vision to meet menstrual hygiene management in schools by 2024 was identified. Key priorities identified in the meeting were advocating for menstrual hygiene in schools and ensuring national governments are held accountable for menstrual hygiene management in schools (Council, 2012).

Some of the challenges encountered in improving the accessibility of female hygiene include lack of access to facilities and services and financial constraints (Dreher, Sturm and Vreeland, 2009). Also, myths and taboos that make menstruation appear polluting and impure deny women safety, information, mobility, comfort and prevent them from work, school and full participation (Sjögren, 2015).

Following the push from various human rights activists, the British government is considering to amend a law that will not classify tampons as luxury items but as a necessity.  In addition, the British national government is working on legislations that will subsidise reusable technologies particularly menstrual cups that are more environmentally sustainable, practical and economical than disposable products.

Access to female hygiene products is inextricably included in the human rights to water and sanitation regarding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Based on such, the committee needs work on strategies to break the silence that surrounds menstruation, which today affects half of the world’s population. As a committee, there is the need to practice setting an example and encouraging countries to integrate of menstrual hygiene management into their national policy.

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  15. United Nations. Secretary-General, 2002. Women, Peace and Security: Study Submitted by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). United Nations Publications, pp.74-204.
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