Uruguay: Women make great strides in military
By Dialogo October 08, 2013
Uruguay is continuing its more than decade-long effort to add more female troops to its ranks.
Women comprise about 25 percent of Uruguay’s Armed Forces and can serve in combat, according to a recent survey on Armed Forces in Latin America, compared to an average of 4 percent in Latin American countries.
By 2000, Uruguay’s Air Force, Army and Navy had female officer students. In 2000, a woman joined the Navy, the last branch to accept females. The Air Force and Army have been accepting women since 1997.
The Uruguayan newspaper LaRed 21 projects that in four decades, a woman could become Chief Commander of any of the three military branches. “In 2013, 41 women are on officer paths in the Uruguayan Armed Forces. The law provides for a ceiling of 20 percent of female enrollees in the different military academies.”
In 2014, the first female student from the Army Military School, where officers are formed, will graduate with the rank of Alferez (junior officer), according to the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense.
The Air Force School accepted six female students to bring the total enrolled to 13. Of those, four will graduate as pilots and navigators this year.
“Valeria Sorrenti Pírez completed Navy Senior High School in four years, and if she doesn't flunk any exam will become the first female officer aboard an Uruguayan Navy vessel,” Navy Captain Eduardo Olivera told LaRed 21.
The Military High School General Artigas has 518 male and 130 female students. The school is similar to most public schools except it offers basic martial arts and physical readiness instruction. Girls who are planning a military career attend this school.
Victoria De Munno recalled her first days in the school following her arrival on Feb. 21.
“I entered the Institute, very nervous but also excited about this new phase of my life. It is truly new and different from what I was used to. I came from a very small high school in the country’s interior and had to adapt to a school 10 times larger,” she said.
De Munno recognized some of her fellow students from entrance exams. “It was good I didn’t know everyone – this way I had the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the country.”
De Munno said each day brings a new challenge. “I’m here because I sought this challenge and I’m still trying to see if I am up to it.”
Fellow student Lucía Mendiaval, said she gained skills that will help her in the private sector including learning to read a compass, and topographic map.
As the number of women in uniform grows, Uruguay is modifying equipment including armored vehicles.
“In the 6th Cavalry Regiment, teachers and students … changed the gearbox of a Polish armored vehicle and have also changed the steering wheel, which means that today it can be handled by a woman,” Uruguay Defense Minister Fernández Huidobro said.
Well, it's good that women have rights. Women should be treated well and with respect. OK, thanks, cheers. VERY BEAUTIFUL THE NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY HAS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. THERE, SINCE 1965, THERE IS NO POPULATION GROWTH; 60% OF ITS INHABITANTS ARE OLD PEOPLE AND MOST PART OF THE POPULATION LEAVE THE COUNTRY TO WORK. THEN, THE WOMEN HAVE TO GET ARMED, AND CERTAINLY, THEY ARE CORAGEOUS. I read your comment and I thought it was very objective, portraying the social reality in Uruguay. It is an excellent overview of our armed forces. At the troop level our armed forces are occupational, not professional, which means that young people enroll in these forces because of lack of jobs. To whom it may concern: I would like to know if when my granddaughter finishes elementary school, can she get into this school, without going to the basic regulated secondary school? I am grateful for any information you could send me.