In an effort to attract more women to join its ranks, U.S. Navy secretary Ray Mabus announced a new plan that will open up all combat roles to women, and extend maternity leave to 12 weeks of paid leave (up from six weeks). In a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, he said he believes the military at large lags behind society. “We need more women in the navy and Marine Corps,” Mabus said. “Not simply to have more women but because a more diverse force is a stronger force.” He also announced that fitness standards for combat roles were being re-assessed, but would not be compromised, noting that 80 percent of men do not pass the tests to join the Navy’s most elite unit, the SEALs. There are currently 200,000 women serving in active-duty roles in the military, according to the latest government figures, but combat roles were closed to them until the Pentagon lifted the ban in 2013. Since then, branches have been slow to integrate, however, these new initiatives by the Navy are seeking to change that.
Read the full story at The Guardian.