Fighting for a Seat at the Table: Women's Military Service and Political Representation

  • Citation: Best, Rebecca H., Kyleanne Hunter, and Katherine Hendricks Thomas. “Fighting for a Seat at the Table: Women's Military Service and Political Representation.” Journal of Veterans Studies 7, no. 2 (2021): 19–33.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict and Security
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Human Rights
    • Keywords:
    • North America
    • United States
    • Iraq
    • military
    • political representation
    • elections
    • women combatants
    • women veterans

Military service has long been seen as a path to political leadership and elevation of status in public life. Public opinion polls steadily show that the American people trust military veterans to be principled leaders and model public citizens. Combat veterans are held in particularly high regard as model and trustworthy citizens. For military women in the United States, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have ushered in a new era in combat arms participation. However, to the detriment of both women’s political and economic equality, gendered perceptions about military participation and the identity of combat veterans have been slow to change. Despite women’s participation in combat, they have been denied the elevated citizen status frequently enjoyed by their male peers with similar experiences. This bodes poorly for lasting peace and security. Research increasingly indicates that the involvement of women in public life leads to more peaceful and stable outcomes, and enduring peace and stability. While the US has been a leader in the adoption of official UN Resolutions that call for women’s equality in all facets of governance and the passage of the 2017 Women, Peace, and Security Act; women are still heavily under-represented in all levels of government.