Women in the Canadian Armed Forces

Canada is a world leader in both the proportion of women in its military and the areas in which they can serve.

Women have been serving in Canada’s military for over a century and today play a pivotal role in defending Canada’s safety and security. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was one of the first military forces to allow women to serve in all occupations, and today is setting ambitious goals to increase representation across all trades and ranks. Our objective is that by 2026, 1 in 4 CAF members will be women.

To find out more about the past, present and future state of women in the CAF, click one of the options below.

Did you know?


A Nursing Sister sitting with a group of soldiers.



Women served for the first time in Canadian military history as nurses in the field to provide care to the Canadian troops in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Their tour of duty lasted 4 weeks. A total of 12 nursing sisters were awarded the Campaign medal for service in the North-West in 1885.

Women in military dress saluting.



The Second World War saw the creation of 3 women’s divisions in the CAF: the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, and the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service. Some 50,000 women enlisted to work as clerks, cooks, mechanics, parachute riggers, and heavy mobile equipment drivers.

LGen Jennie Carignan walking



As of May 2023, there are 12 women at the general and flag officer ranks in the CAF. Since 2017, the number of women in senior non-commissioned member ranks also rose to 73 chief warrant officers and chief petty officers 1st class, as did the number of women in Special Forces roles.

CAF stories

"When I first started in the military, I wasn’t in space, I never expected to be in a space related position."
Lieutenant-Colonel Melissa Reyes
CAF Story | Fine Arts and Naval Communication Go Hand in Hand!
"...now that I've joined the military, I've done more fine arts than I had while going to school."

Sailor 1st Class Willow Nelson

CAF Story | Sticking together in the CAF!


"We have no military experience in our family whatsoever. And we weren't cadets or anything"

Second Lieutenant Alyssa and Jenna Kane

"It was actually on tour that I first started getting into fitness in any kind of serious way."
Sergeant Michele Steeves
CAF Story | I am a woman
"Most of the cadets that I talk to actually don't see me as transgender. They see me as a chaplain"

Padre (CAPT) Beatrice Gale

CAF Story | Reconciliation and Healing


"Given the time that he joined, I can imagine that it was vastly different from what we see today in the CAF."

Master Corporal Phoenix George

"I remember meeting an official. I remember they said: "Do you want to go to Canada?""
Lieutenant-Commander Kim Poirrier
CAF Story | Capt Stephanie Clubine, "The best piece of equipment for the job"
"The nursing shirt idea originally came when I was on parental leave with my oldest"

Captain Stephanie Clubine

CAF Story |  When the world is smaller than you thought with the CAF


"I wanted opportunities to work in different environments and that's exactly what the CAF was offering..."

Warrant Officer Mireille Gauthier

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