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Monday 22 July 2019
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Major McLean: Don't treat military women with 'kid gloves'

TTDF personnel, at the TTDF Inaugural Women's Conference, Trinidad Hilton Conference Centre, Port of Spain.

PHOTO:ANGELO M. MARCELLE
TTDF personnel, at the TTDF Inaugural Women's Conference, Trinidad Hilton Conference Centre, Port of Spain. PHOTO:ANGELO M. MARCELLE

Women in the military must not be protected and treated with “kid gloves and given special treatment,” said Defence Force Major Jozette McLean on Tuesday.

Speaking at the defence force (TTDF)'s inaugural women’s conference at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, McLean said according to the UN, equity between men and women is seen to exist when both parties share an equal distribution of power and influence, and have the same opportunities in life, unrestrained by and independent of their sex.

McLean said currently, the TTDF has 718 women, comprising of 341 in the Regiment, 214 in the Coast Guard, 96 in theAir Guard and 67 in the Defence Force Reserve.

She said that represented approximately 14 per cent of the strength of the TTDF, above the ten per cent stipulated in a Cabinet note.

“In today’s environment, the TTDF must promote a work-life balance so that mothers and fathers do not feel they must give up their personal and family lives in order to get ahead in their military careers," she stressed,

“Today’s inaugural women’s seminar is the first event post-launch and bears special significance. The conference will review existing policies that support individual and organisational accountability in gender equity.”

McLean said the outcome of the seminar would help identify gender issues specific to employment, performance and management of women in the defence force with recommended solutions.

She said the TTDF was fortunate to have the unwavering and dedicated support of the office of the US Military (USM) liaison officer, who had brought experience and expert advice that would multiply the defence force's efforts to bring about tangible effects on women’s performance standards.

“When it comes to the military, the inherent nature of armed forces, as organisations that deal with crisis response, dictates that they must be able to respond proficiently and rapidly when called upon.

“This translates to balancing military operational effectiveness standards against the optimisation of gender equity. Further, the current threat environment dictates that the operational effectiveness of the military must be heightened despite persisting shortfalls in staffing, finance and other resources.”

McLean said every member of the force must contribute to the safety and security of communities despite issues that may arise as a consequence of gender differences. She said that could only be achieved by ensuring all members of the force were operationally effective and employed in accordance with their gender-specific requirements.

“There exists a critical role for women in operations, just as much as in supporting roles. These roles must be defined and the enabling environment for mission success created and cemented through policy.

“Gender equity for the Defence Force and its strategy must recognise that...men and women have different life experiences, levels of power and access to decision-making, so different approaches are needed to provide equitable outcomes for all.”

McLean said women in the military had a responsibility to ensure they were up to the challenge, and although gender equity is the aim of the initiative, it is critical that standards are not lowered to make it easier for women to meet the criteria for infantry jobs and specialist units.

“We must be physically fit, resilient, healthy, knowledgeable and responsible. We must be able to manage our families and be leaders. We will not accept handouts or special favours or special treatment.

“Gender-neutral standards are tied to combat tasks, not gender. Identify the task at hand and the requirements to meet that standard, and we as women will rise to meet that standard.”

This story was originally published with the title "Military women must not be given special treatment" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

Women in the military must not be protected and treated with “kid gloves and given special treatment” said TT Defence Force (TTDF) Major Jozette McLean today.

Speaking at the TTDF inaugural women’s conference held at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, McLean said, according to the UN, equity between men and women exists when both parties share an equal distribution of power and influence, and have the same opportunities in life, unrestrained by and independent of their sex.

“In today’s environment, the TTDF must promote a work-life balance so that mothers and fathers do not feel they must give up their personal and family lives in order to get ahead in their military careers.

“Today’s inaugural women’s seminar is the first event post launch and bears special significance. The conference will review existing policies that support individual and organisational accountability in gender equity.”

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