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Historic New Combat Roles For Women In U.S. Military To Create 230,000 Jobs

AP, CNN, REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST (U.S.)

Worldcrunch

WASHINGTON- The Pentagon plans to outline details Thursday of a groundbreaking decision to lift a ban on women in front line combat service. This is the second historic reversal of longstanding military bans by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, following the 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on gays openly serving in the Armed Services.

According to the Washington Post, women currently make up about 14% of the 1.4 million active military personnel. In support of the wars, more than 280,000 woman have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan or neighboring nations. About 2% of the more than 6,600 U.S. service members killed were women.

The Associated Press spoke to officials who confirmed that each of the military services must now develop plans that will allow women to seek these potential 230,000 combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year, while assessments for others, e.g. special operations forces, including Navy SEALS or Delta Force, may take longer. The services will have until January 2016 to make a case that some positions should remain closed to women.

Approval of this measure has come from many, including Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain: “As this new rule is implemented, it is critical that we maintain the same high standards that have made the American military the most feared and admired fighting force in the world -- particularly the rigorous physical standards for our elite special forces units,” McCain said in a statement, reports CNN.

Reuters reports that the outgoing head of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Democratic Senator Patty Murray also voiced her support: “This is an historic step for equality and for recognizing the role women have, and will continue to play, in the defense of our nation”.

Objections were few but the Washington Post says that when the Marine Corps sought women to go through its tough infantry course last year, two volunteered and both failed to complete the course. They also report that there may not be a wide clamoring from women to apply for the intense, dangerous and difficult jobs in the military.

“Not every woman makes a good soldier, but not every man makes a good soldier. So women will compete” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif, according to the AP. “We’re not asking that standards be lowered. We’re saying that if they can be effective and they can be a good soldier or a good Marine in that particular operation, then give them a shot.”[rebelmouse-image 27086182 alt=""First" original_size="499x328" expand=1]First all-female Seebee team in Afghanistan. Photo: US Navy Seebee Museum via Flickr

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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