Can Women Fight in the Chinese Army?
In the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, a branch of the Chinese armed forces, women are not allowed to engage in front-line combat duties. However, there is a small number of women who serve in mixed-gender units in non-combat roles in the Army, and some of them have been honored with awards for their outstanding performance.
Women are present in the PLA as troopers, technicians, and medical personnel. In addition, there are a reported 3,500 female officers in the People’s Liberation Army. Recent reports have found that women have been increasingly accepted and welcomed in the military, such as when the Chinese Ministry of National Defense announced in 2018 that female cadets would begin selecting combat positions in the army from the 2019 enrolment year.
Despite the ban on women serving in combat roles, there are cases in which female recruits have insisted on taking up combat roles despite the risks and with full knowledge of the consequences. Among them is the example of Li Qian, who graduated from the Army Academy and was assigned to a military base. She was later transferred to an infantry training regiment and after rigorous physical training, Li Qian was allowed to become a border security guard.
In recognition of the potential of female recruits, in 2008 the National Defense training academy launched its “Beauty and the Beast” program in which a small section of the female platoons were allowed to undergo a forty-day selection process where they would be trained in combat operations. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of female officers assigned to front-line units over the past decade.
Nevertheless, there are still socio-cultural prerequisites which militate against the full introduction of women into the combat-line in the Chinese army. The Chinese society still perceives the fight as a traditionally male domain and women are usually indicated to take up administrative roles or other less-demanding tasks. As such, the expectations for women to conform to the expectations of their families and society regarding their behavior have been seen to have created a huge obstacle for female soldiers who are willing to take up combat roles.
Furthermore, the physical standards for females are much higher than those for males, resulting in fewer females being eligible for front-line duty. It has been pointed out that many potential female recruits have been rejected because they could not meet the physical fitness requirements needed. Similarly, some women are prevented from joining even the non-combat roles in the army due to their physical limitations. This furthers the perception that women are comparatively weaker than men and thus not suited for the combat.
In conclusion, women’s participation in the Chinese military is still quite small and largely confined to non-combat roles. Nonetheless, the potential of female soldiers in the PLA is being increasingly recognized, and steps are being taken to ensure that more women are able to serve in the army. While there are socio-cultural obstacles to their full integration, if progress continues, it is very much possible that in the future, women in China will be able to take up combat roles in the Chinese army.
The Benefits of Allowing Women to Fight in the PLA
Allowing women to take part in combat operations in the Chinese army could bring about many positive changes both for the army and for society. For one, it could make use of the underutilized talent pool of skilled female recruits that could help to improve the overall combat capability of the PLA. Secondly, it could help to break down the traditional stereotypes associated with gender roles and encourage the empowerment of women in society. Thirdly, it could help to increase appreciation and respect for female soldiers who are willing to risk their lives to serve their country.
In addition, the presence of women in the combat could also change the dynamics of the battlefield and potentially help to reduce the psychological and physiological effects of war on both soldiers and civilians. Research has also suggested that mixed-gender teams are more effective in terms of performance, discipline, motivation, and leadership. As such, allowing women to participate in combat operations could yield tangible benefits for the armed forces.
Furthermore, channelling the energy and ambition of female soldiers into the army can help to create a more equal and just society by providing women with meaningful roles and inspiring them to pursue a career in the military. This in turn, can help to create greater social and economic equality between men and women, as well as empower women to play a more active role in society.
thus creating a more equal and just society by providing greater economic and psychological resources for female soldiers, shattering traditional gender roles, and freeing women to pursue more meaningful roles in society.
The Challenges Faced by Women in the Military
Despite the potential benefits, there are still many challenges that need to be overcome to ensure that women are able to succeed in the military. One of the main obstacles is prejudice and stereotyping. For instance, many female soldiers have reported receiving unfair treatment from their male colleagues due to their gender and have had to constantly prove themselves in order to be accepted. Women have also faced discrimination in terms of rank, pay and promotions and have often been passed over for higher positions and awards.
In addition, many women in the military have faced sexual harassment and abuse, especially in more male-dominated groups. This has had an adverse effect on morale and productivity, and is also a major deterrent for potential female recruits. Furthermore, women are more likely to suffer physical and psychological injuries due to the rigours of combat, although more studies need to be done in this regard.
Moreover, women in the military also face unique challenges that are not faced by male recruits. For instance, women have to be able to balance their family and career responsibilities, which can be difficult due to the long shifts and extended periods away from home. Furthermore, women often have to contend with different equipment and supplies than men and are often deprived of certain critical tools such as body armor and weaponry.
Finally, there is also the challenge of integrating women into previously all-male units, as men may not be accustomed to working with female soldiers. This can lead to a lack of trust and understanding and create further conflicts between the members of the unit. Moreover, the expectations on female soldiers to conform to gender stereotypes can also be isolating and debilitating in the long run.
Reforming Policies and Practices in the PLA
Given the challenges faced by women in the military, it is critical that measures are taken to ensure that they are able to conduct their duties without fear of discrimination or disadvantage. In order to do so, the PLA should take steps to ensure that the environment is conducive to women’s participation and that gender equality is effectively maintained in all ranks.
This could include providing gender-sensitive training and mentorship programmes to ensure that women are not disadvantaged in the military. In addition, policies to combat sexual harassment and abuse should be implemented and periodic assessments should be conducted to ensure compliance. Furthermore, the provision of gender-specific resources such as body armor, equipment and other supplies should be ensured to support female soldiers.
Moreover, it is imperative that women are given access to higher positions and promotions and that they are rewarded fairly for their service. Standards should also be established to ensure that women are able to balance their family and military responsibilities without having to choose between the two. Finally, the PLA should ensure that there is increased awareness of the potential of female soldiers and that they are not made to feel isolated or excluded from the team.
In conclusion, allowing women to fight in the Chinese army could bring about many positive changes for both the army and for society at large. However, in order for this to be effective, it is essential that measures are taken to ensure that women are not disadvantaged or disadvantaged and that they have access to the same resources and opportunities as their male counterparts. Only then can progress be made in this regard.