Message from Cmdre Rebecca Patterson, Defence Champion for Women

March 2, 2020 - Defence Stories


Commodore Rebecca Patterson, Defence Champion for Women.

On March 8, the Defence Team joins communities around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD is an opportunity for us to recognize the formidable work of women in the Defence Team and to reflect on the progress we have made towards gender equality.

In the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), women can enroll in any occupation and serve in any environment. In all occupations, CAF men and women are selected for training, promotions, postings, and career opportunities in exactly the same way—based on demonstrated potential, qualifications, and merit. Women now make up 15.9% of the CAF—this positive growth brings us closer to our goal of having 25% representation of women in the military by 2026. The number of civilian women in the Defence Team is also increasing, particularly in leadership roles. As of March 2019, women accounted for 40.3% of the civilian workforce, almost at par with the 40.4% market availability, and for 42.8% of executives.

This increase is crucial because gender diversity helps us to better understand our complex world, and we in turn can apply that understanding to how we respond to its challenges. From a CAF perspective, gender diversity improves operational effectiveness, better reflects the society we serve, and ensures that we maintain diversity of thought in a military that is faced with increasingly complex operational challenges.

While the journey towards gender equality is well on its way, there is still work to be done.

The Defence theme for IWD this year, “Make an Impact,” is not only a celebration of the work done by women in Defence, but also a call to action. We need to look at what we have done so far and ask ourselves: what we can to do to make our organization more inclusive?

Gender equality helps us all, and we can all be advocates for change. Women can accelerate change by helping each other succeed, by building networks and collaborating, and by sharing their knowledge and experience with each other.

Men are encouraged to join as allies and advocate for gender equality. They can promote mutual respect—through their words and actions—and challenge negative norms and systemic beliefs. Together, we will build a workplace where everyone can achieve their full potential.

As Defence Champion for Women, I invite all Defence Team personnel to participate in activities for International Women’s Day. I encourage you to ask questions, to learn about the remarkable accomplishments made by women, and to consider how you can #MakeAnImpact and be an advocate for gender equality.

Commodore (Cmdre) Rebecca Patterson, Director General, Professional Military Conduct - Operation HONOUR (DG PMC-OpH) and Defence Champion for Women, will be hosting the national event at NDHQ (Carling), Atrium of Building 3, on Friday, 6 March 2020, from 1000 hrs to 1200 hrs.

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