American female troops in the US have been forbidden from being involved in any jobs like infantry, armour or special operations – basically anything to do with frontline combat. Until today. America's outgoing General Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to overturn a ruling that's questioned female strength and stamina and has been in place for almost 20 years. Decisions will be made on which jobs will be open to women, possibly widening access to around 230,000 more fighting jobs, mainly in the Army and Marine infantry.
It's a natural progression of the U.S. military's move towards fairness and equality. Last year the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was scrapped.
Women make up 14% of the 1.4m active U.S. military personnel. Nearly 300,000 women have been deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the past 11 years, in wide-ranging jobs such medics, military police and intelligence officers where casualties have been inevitable. According to the AP News agency, there've been around 152 hostile female casualties in those wars. Some frontline jobs might become available as soon as next year, but all decisions will be made by 2016.
Written and presented by Marverine Cole