Women and War in the 21st Century

A Country-by-Country Guide

by Margaret D. Sankey


In the last 50 years, women all over the world have been increasingly more visible as participants in armed conflict, particularly in the role of uniformed combatants.

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Cover image for Women and War in the 21st Century

August 2018


Pages 319
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Military History/Gender
  Women's Studies/General

Twenty-three countries currently allow women to serve in front-line combat positions and others with a high likelihood of direct enemy contact. This book examines how these decisions did or did not evolve in 47 countries.

This timely and fascinating book explores how different countries have determined to allow women in the military to take on combat roles—whether out of a need for personnel, a desire for the military to reflect the values of the society, or the opinion that women improve military effectiveness—or, in contrast, have disallowed such a move on behalf of the state. In addition, many countries have insurgent or dissident factions, in that have led armed resistance to state authority in which women have been present, requiring national militaries and peacekeepers to engage them, incorporate them, or disarm and deradicalize them.

This country-by country analysis of the role of women in conflicts includes insightful essays on such countries as Afghanistan, China, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Russia, and the United States. Each essay provides important background information to help readers to understand the cultural and political contexts in which women have been integrated into their countries' militaries, have engaged in combat during the course of conflict, and have come to positions of political power that affect military decisions.


  • Delineates the ways in which women are incorporated into national militaries in both the United States and countries around the world
  • Offers in each entry the distinct national context in which countries have decided to employ women in warfare
  • Reveals how different nations choose to include or exclude women from the military, providing key insight into each nation's values and priorities
  • Examines how governments treat women serving in combat: battlefield experience can "earn" a woman citizenship or be cause for shunning her, depending on the state
Author Info

Margaret D. Sankey, PhD, is director of research and electives at the United States Air Force Air War College, Maxwell AFB. She is author of Jacobite Prisoners of the 1715 Rebellion: Preventing and Punishing Insurrection in Early Hanoverian Britain and is a historian of war and society. She earned her doctorate from Auburn University in 2002.



"Entries are well written and organized well. They provide historical contexts for women in war in the twenty-first century and offer adequate overviews of pertinent topics. . . .a good introduction to the topic and is recommended for public, school, and academic libraries."ARBA

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An Encyclopedia of American Women at War cover imageU.S. Conflicts in the 21st Century cover imageThe Iraq War Encyclopedia cover image

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