Women in warfare and the military (1945–99)

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This list is about women in warfare and the military from 1945 to 1999.

For women in the United States military during this time period, see Timeline of women in warfare in the United States military from 1945 to 1999.

Timeline of women in warfare from 1945 until 1999 worldwide[edit]




  • 1961: Josephine Okwuekeleke Tolefe was the first female Commissioned Officer in the Nigerian Army; she was granted Short Service Commission on 7 February 1961 in the rank of Second Lieutenant with seniority in the rank with effect from same date. She was also the first woman to attain the rank of an Army Captain in Nigeria, which she attained on 1 June 1963.[12]
  • 1961–1964: Phung Le Ly fights for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, an experience she chronicles in her memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places.[citation needed]
  • 1963: Josephine Okwuekeleke Tolefe became the first woman to attain the rank of an Army Captain in Nigeria, which she attained on 1 June 1963.[12]
  • 1967: Dilma Rousseff fights as a guerrilla in Brazil. She later became Brazil's first female president.[13]
  • August 31, 1967: Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider, alias Tania the Guerrilla, communist revolutionary, is killed battling Bolivian soldiers.[citation needed]



  • 1980: Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front forms. Ana María becomes second in command.[citation needed]
  • 1981: 2nd Lieut. Inge Plug becomes the first female helicopter pilot in the Canadian military.[15]
  • 1981: Lieut. Karen McCrimmon becomes the Canadian Forces' first female air navigator.[15]
  • 1985: Women have been allowed into almost all operational functions of Norway's Armed Forces since 1985. The exceptions are the para-rangers and marine commandos, because as of 2011 no woman has met the entry requirements.[17]
  • 1986: Rebecca Mpagi joined the National Resistance Army; she was the first Ugandan woman to join the army as a military pilot.[18]
  • 1986–1987: Alice Auma leads a rebellion against Ugandan government forces.[citation needed]
  • 1987: All trades are opened to women in the Canadian Forces, including the combat arms. However, women are still restricted from serving in submarines until 2002 when the Victoria-class submarines are acquired.[citation needed]
  • 1988: Col. Sheila A. Hellstrom is the first female graduate of National Defence College in Canada. She becomes the first Canadian Regular Force woman to be promoted to the rank of brigadier-general.[15]
  • 1988: First female gunners in the Canadian Regular Force graduate from qualification 3 training.[15]
  • January 19, 1989: Canadian Forces soldier Heather Erxleben becomes the first female to graduate from a Regular Force infantry trades training course.[citation needed]
  • 1989: Maj. Dee Brasseur became the first Canadian female fighter pilot of a CF-18 Hornet.[15]
  • Late 1980s: Latifa and Lailuma Nabizada become the first female graduates of the Afghan Airforce Academy. Lailuma eventually died in childbirth, making Latifa the first female pilot in Afghan history.[19]


  • Early 1990s: Jo Salter becomes the Royal Air Force's first female fighter pilot.[20]
  • 1991: HMCS Nipigon becomes the first Canadian mixed-gender warship to participate in exercises with NATO's Standing Naval Forces Atlantic.[15]
  • 1991: Lieut. Anne Reiffenstein (née Proctor), Lieut. Holly Brown and Capt. Linda Shrum graduate from artillery training as the first female officers in the combat arms in Canada.[15]
  • 1992: On July 13, 1992, 22 women began their naval training at INS Mandovi in Goa to become the first commissioned officers in the Indian defence forces. Prior to 1992, the Indian Navy enlisted women only in the role of doctor.[21]
  • 1993: Lieut. (N) Leanne Crowe is the first woman in Canada to qualify as a clearance diving officer and is subsequently the first woman to become Officer Commanding of the Experimental Diving Unit.[15]
  • January 1, 1994: Comandante Ramona, an officer of Zapatista Army of National Liberation, takes control of San Cristóbal de las Casas, a Mexican city.[citation needed]
  • 1994: Maj.-Gen. Wendy Clay becomes the first woman in Canada promoted to that rank.[15]
  • 1995: Chief Warrant Officer Linda Smith is the first woman to be named Wing Chief Warrant Officer in the Canadian Forces at 17 Wing Winnipeg.[15]\
  • 1995: Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class Holly Kisbee becomes the first woman Combat Chief of a major warship in Canada.[15]
  • 1995: Maj. Micky Colton becomes the first female pilot in Canada to complete 10,000 flying hours in a Hercules aircraft.[15]
  • 1995: A Norwegian woman, Solveig Krey, became the first female commanding officer of a submarine in the world when she took command of the first Kobben class submarine on 11 September 1995.[22]
  • 1995: Lieut. Ruth-Ann Shamuhn of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment becomes the first female combat diver in Canada.[15]
  • 1995: The Royal Norwegian Navy became the first navy in the world to appoint a female submarine captain.[citation needed]
  • 1998: The Australian Navy became the second nation to allow women to serve on combat submarines. Canada and Spain followed in permitting women to serve on military submarines.[citation needed]
  • 1998: Brigadier Patricia Purves becomes the first British one-star general selected in open competition across the British Army. (The Women's Royal Army Corps, disbanded in 1992, had a 'tied' brigadier appointment.)[citation needed]
  • 1998: Although women had served as pilots during the Israeli War of Independence and a few years thereafter, the Israeli Defense Forces had until 1995 denied women the opportunity to become pilots. After the prohibition was lifted, the first female graduate was F-16 navigator "Shari" in 1998.[4]
  • January 1999: Indonesian woman Cut Syamsurniati successfully leads a group of women to negotiate with the military when her village is attacked.[23]
  • 1999: Arlene dela Cruz became the first woman to graduate at the top of her class at the Philippine Military Academy.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  2. ^ *Hungry Wolf, Beverly, The Ways of My Grandmothers, pp. 59–60, 112
  3. ^ "Women in the Military: a Bastion of Equal Opportunities". The Chosun Ilbo. 2009-09-05. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  4. ^ a b Norton, Bill (2004). Air War on the Edge - A History of the Israel Air Force and its Aircraft since 1947. Midland Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 1-85780-088-5. 
  5. ^ Kyodo News International, Inc., Gale Group (September 30, 2002). "S. Korea gets its 1st female fighter pilots". Retrieved 2008-06-25.  [dead link]
  6. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, p. 26
  7. ^ Karam 1998, p. 44
  8. ^ Sullivan 1986
  9. ^ Historical Dictionary of Algeria By Phillip C. Naylor, p.71
  10. ^ Assia Djebar: Out of Algeria By Jane Hiddleston p.36
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of Censorship By Jonathon Green, Nicholas J. Karolides p.157
  12. ^ a b Ogwuda, Austin (December 10, 2011). "Meet the first female army officer in Nigeria". Just Human. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ex-Guerrilla to be Brazil's First Female President". Archived from the original on November 4, 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-19.  by Bradley Brooks, Associated Press, 31 October 2010. Retrieved from Internet Archive 11 January 2014.
  14. ^ Re-living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle By Fay Chung
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Women in the Canadian military". CBC News. May 30, 2006. Archived from the original on November 28, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ Revista Envío – Women, Poetry, New Nicaraguan Culture
  17. ^ "Women in the military — international". CBC News Online. May 30, 2006. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  18. ^ Okwera, Oyet (2012-06-13). "Uganda: First Woman Military Pilot (Page 1 of 3)". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  19. ^ Shafi, Ahmad (September 15, 2011). "A Long, Turbulent Journey For Afghan Female Pilot". NPR. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  20. ^ Smyth, Chris (June 18, 2008). "Women on the front line". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  21. ^ "20 yrs on, first women naval officers meet in Goa". The Times Of India. July 15, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2015-02-18. 
  23. ^ Marshall, Andrew (2003-04-28). "Cut Syamsurniati: In Aceh, a woman warrior fights against fear". TIME Magazine. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  24. ^ "PMA's 1st woman topnotcher laid to rest | News | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere". Gmanetwork.com. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 

Goldschmidt, Arthur (2000). Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 978-977-424-579-4. OCLC 237384904.  Karam, Azza M. (1998). Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (snippet view). Handbook series. Vol. 2. Stockholm: International IDEA. ISBN 978-91-89098-19-0. OCLC 186101396. 

External links[edit]