British women will be granted the right to apply for any role in the military for the first time, the country’s Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said on Thursday.
Williamson said that women serving in the army could now transfer into infantry roles, including the Special Forces, such as the Special Air Service.
“I am absolutely delighted to announce that all roles in the military are now open to women,” he said on his Twitter account.
“Our Armed Forces will now be determined by ability alone and not gender. This is a truly defining moment in the history of the Armed Forces,” the secretary added.
The British Ministry of Defence called it an historic day. A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military was lifted in 2016.
Local media said that since then, about 35 women had either served in or been trained to join the Royal Armoured Corps.
In another development, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday asked the international community to match words with action over the empowerment of women for the sake of peace and security.
Guterres told a high-level Security Council debate on women, peace and security that “There is a significant gap between what we say and what we do over the issue.
“Every year, we make laudable commitments, but they are not backed with the requisite financial and political supports.
“We repeat statistics about the sustainability of inclusive peace processes, but that is not how we mediate most conflicts.
“We extol the positive influence of women peace builders, but provide little space for their participation.
“We rely heavily on women organisations, but do not fund them adequately. We recognise the importance of gender analysis, but cut the budgets for such expertise.’’
He promised a series of measures to address the gap in the coming year, including having more women peace builders, promoting women’s role in mediation and more funding on gender equality in the peace and security pillar.
“Gender parity has the greatest potential impact on effectiveness and credibility in UN field operations. But this is where the numbers are lowest, and the rate of change is slowest,’’ said Guterres.
He said he had formed a working group to put emergency measures in place to address this.
“Women’s meaningful participation in mediation is directly linked to more sustainable peace.
“Women’s participation, however, should not be confined to advisory roles or parallel structures,’’ he stressed.
Guterres added that he had created a high-level task force to review UN funding on gender equality, including in the peace and security pillar.
“I will hold UN entities accountable to their commitments to track spending on women, peace and security with a target of reaching or exceeding 15 per cent by 2020,’’ he said. (dpa/NAN)