Today on International Women’s Day, we celebrate women across the defence team who defend our country and demonstrate excellence every day.
Women who speak truth to power, and work hard to make our military a more effective, welcoming, and inclusive organization.
Women who challenge the notion that the way things are is how they should be.
First and foremost, today is about recognizing them and the work they do.
In the field.
In aircraft, ships, and tanks.
In leadership roles across the entire defence team.
Their hard work is vital to our organization’s success.
Women like Chief Warrant Officer Necole Belanger, who knew she wanted to join the military when she was five years old.
She was driven by a desire to serve her country.
That passion has been the hallmark of her 34 years of service.
In that time, she has served as a member of the Military Police, and in other important roles across the armed forces.
In the early 2000s, she was the mission security manager for the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. She and her wife were one of the first out couples to be posted overseas.
And, two years ago, she was appointed to her current position of Command Chief Warrant Officer for Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.
Or Defence Scientist Dr. Ritu Gill. Her research on disinformation is vital to our success when CAF members deploy abroad.
She continues to advocate for greater diversity of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields by reaching out to high school students to allow girls to see scientists who look and sound like them.
Or Elizebeth Smith Friedman, one of America’s top cryptanalysts during World War Two. She helped break ENIGMA codes that exposed Nazi spies.
She also solved puzzles for the Canadian government, tackled organized crime and led a cryptanalytic effort against smuggling.
Women at National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Communications Security Establishment, civilian and military, do critical work like this every day to keep our country safe and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous world.
Over the past decades, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence have changed for the better, but we have so much more to do.
We know the Canadian Armed Forces has a culture rooted in tradition and history—and not all of that history is good.
We must change this culture to be more inclusive and respectful. Though institutional change can be slow, the time for patience is over. We must re-double our efforts.
We must continue working hard to ensure our policies, attitudes, and behaviours live up to Canadian values.
We must work harder to build a safer and more inclusive workplace for women, military and civilian alike.
And we must make sure our efforts benefit all women.
So, this International Women’s Day, let’s keep pushing forward.
Let’s recognize the women who inspire us, and who put words into action.
And let’s celebrate the women who make us a more resilient, agile, and effective organization.