Women in the Canadian Armed Forces: Did You Know?

Canadian women have served in virtually every armed conflict or peacekeeping effort Canada has engaged in during the past century and a half.

Women served with distinction in the Boer War and the First and Second World wars.

  • In 1987, the Canadia Air Force opened all positions to women.
  • In 1989, all military occupations were opened to women, with one exception:
    • Service aboard submarines (which was opened in 2001).
    • First women infantry soldiers.
    • First two women CF-18 fighter pilots.
  • In 1991, The Gulf War was the first conflict in which Canadian women took part in combat.
  • In 1991, HMCS Nipigon becomes the first mixed gender warship to participate in NATO exercises.

AS of 2020, women make up approximately 15% of the Canadian military, with over 7,900 female personnel serving in the regular force and more than 4,800 women serving in the primary reserve.

Service GroupWomen (%)
Regular Force Officers19.3
Regular Force Non-Commissioned Members (NCM’s)14.1
Total Regular Force Members15.4
Primary Reserve Officers16.9
Primary Reserve NCM’s16.2
Total Primary Reserve Members16.3
Regular Force & Primary Reserve Officers18.7
Regular Force & Primary Reserve NCM’s14.8
Total Regular Force & Primary Reserve Members15.7

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aims to have 1 in 4 CAF members being women by 2026.


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