Under Fire: Canadian Women in Combat

Symons, Ellen
June 1991
Canadian Journal of Women & the Law;1991, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p477
Academic Journal
The author uses the history of women's participation in combat around the world and the evidence collected through the Canadian Forces' own mixed unit military trials to refute the arguments offered in justification of the exclusion of women from combat roles in the military. While the exclusion of women has, in a 1989 Canadian Human Rights tribunal decision, Gauthier v. Canadian Armed Forces, been determined to violate principles of non-discrimination, Ellen Symons highlights three problems with the decision: the continued exclusion of women from service on submarines, the use of an overly generous subjective test to determine whether occupational requirements are bona fide, and an inadequate understanding of the impact of the exclusion on women individually and as a group. She concludes with a call for the full integration of women into all of our institutions, including the military, as part of our commitment to women's political participation and to our quest for a non-aggressive, egalitarian society.


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