This year, more than ever, women are being remembered and celebrated in the military. A recent Sun article about women on the front lines reveals that few people have heard of Michelle Norris, the first woman in the U.K. to receive the military cross in 2007, or Violette Szabo or sisters, Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, all of whom worked undercover in WW2.
Although we recognise women’s names associated with care-taking positions such as Florence Nightingale, we do not recognise the names of those women who served in combat. Simply put, we are not well versed in women’s military heroism. Historically, there’s been a lack of interest in women’s stories and therefore they’ve not been well documented or reflected fully in print, media or film. Yet, recent research by armed forces charity and media organisation BFBS suggests that more than two thirds of the British population believe that women’s contributions need to be documented and celebrated.
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day help us appreciate and acknowledge women bringing them to the front lines of the news and our thinking. This month women’s stories in the military include for instance their leaders, General Jacqueline Van Ovost and Lieutenant General Laura Richardson who lead combatant commands in the US armed forces, the first female commanding officer, Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden, in the 116-year history of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), and the first female general in the Canadian Armed Forces, Sheila Hellstrom.