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More women needed in Army

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Women soldiers going through shooting drills. (Armed Forces of the Philippines)

In celebration of the National Women’s Month, five generals from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Navy on Tuesday called on more women to join the army.

According to the officers, increasing the percentage of women in the military balances the outlook on both genders making the sight of women in these professions no longer a novelty.

“So that it (becomes) a normal thing that there are women (in the military),” said Brigadier General Maxima Ignacio, Adjutant General of the AFP.

Ignacio said that out of the 140,000 members of the AFP, only 8,000 are female and only 2,000 of them are officers.

“It’s just about two percent,” she said.

Ignacio added that there is also an existing quota placed on the number of female officers that are bound to be accepted in the military. It is an action disapproved by the United Nations.

“Right now, the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) accepts 15 percent. In the OCS (officer candidate school), it is 10 percent,” she said.

But the number of female officers in the country is still larger now than those of the past years.

“There were a few during our time. But our presence is like a normal thing in the military now,” Deputy Commander and Army Support Brigadier General Joselyn Bandarlipe said.

But Bandarlipe stressed that one should be really interested in joining the army despite the difficult training.

“The training (is) very intense. But it’s a memorable thing, something that you would treasure,” she said.

Mother, wife
Aside from being military members, one of the common challenges they face as a mother and wife is managing their time on both priorities.

“We have to balance life and career, so there are times when we have to choose between the two,” said Brigadier General and Chief Nurse Venus Bajarin.

Bandarlipe explained that time management, discipline, and the support of other family members are the key factors in attending to these priorities.

Ignacio emphasized that having a supportive husband is also what helped her to be in both places at once.

The generals urge for women to try working in the military.

“They no longer look at gender. So, if you have a goal, go for it and reach for it,” said Commodore Luzviminda Camacho, chief of the Office for Legislative Affairs.

“It’s worth the try and you will see how you will be able to manage our skills, your capabilities and it’s all about not just having the competence but it builds your character. And in the end, what counts most, we are what we do next,” Brigadier General Angelica Torres, the chief dental service of AFP said.

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