Champion’s message for Women’s History Month 2020


Rear-Admiral Rebecca Patterson, Defence Champion for Women.
Photo: DND

Rear-Admiral Rebecca Patterson, Defence Champion for Women

October is Women’s history month, and National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are pleased to join the international community in highlighting the achievements of women and their important contributions throughout history on the world stage. We are making a significant mark in our history this year as we overcome new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic and introduce new ideas and concepts that will help shape our institution and society.

Canadian women have been serving in Canada’s military for over a century and continue to play a pivotal role in defending Canada’s safety and security. This year, we commemorate the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Nurses have served in Canada’s military since the 1885 North-West Campaign and nursing sisters were the first women to receive military rank in Canada. Women in the Defence Team, including our nurses, have served our country with distinction in its time of need, and more recently, have taken on important roles and made significant contributions in areas impacted by COVID-19. I am proud that the Defence Team includes so many outstanding women who are continuing the legacy of our predecessors and truly making a difference in the lives of Canadians.

The emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. The strength of women was pushed to the forefront this year, as many took on additional family responsibilities, whilst continuing to fulfil their professional roles. Women have also adopted a new virtual mode of support, relying on online platforms to connect with family and friends as physical distancing became the new normal.

Not just a salute to women’s achievements, Women’s history month continues to be a call to action for gender equality. This pandemic has highlighted the struggles women still face as we strive for gender equality in all aspects of our lives. Family responsibilities are not always shared equally, with women often taking on the primary role for childcare. Everyone has a role to play in achieving gender equality and it starts with supporting the women around you.

We are all fortunate to be part of an institution that puts diversity and inclusion among its top priorities, and ensures that our women – civilian and military – have the support they need to continue to excel. Civilian women are taking on more leadership roles within the Defence Team, and the CAF are working hard to increase representation of diverse women across all trades and ranks as part of the work being done with Strong, Secure, Engaged.

During the month of October, the Defence Team will be sharing stories of the women pioneers, trailblazers, innovators and leaders who have shaped our institution and our society, and inspired the women of today.

As the Defence Champion for Women, I invite you to inspire the women of tomorrow. Share your own stories of women of impact using the hashtag #BecauseOfYou. If we all do our part, we can continue to make the Defence Team a place where all women thrive as they make their mark in history.

National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are pleased to join the international community in highlighting the achievements of women. Photo: DND