Itongadol/AJN.- International Women’s Day is a celebration of women worldwide, but it is easy to forget the girls who place themselves in danger everyday for their nation.
“There are a lot of girls here in the combat unit. That’s more than you could say for I think any other country if I’m right,” said 26-year-old combat soldier Chaya Winterseld. “The girls give of themselves what they can. They push themselves as much as they can.”
International women’s day is a celebration of women worldwide, but it is easy to forget the girls who place themselves in danger everyday for their nation. For most of the countries in the world, women are not allowed in combat positions in the military, but Israel conscripts both men and women. According to the Israel Defense Forces 33% of IDF soldiers are female and 3% choose to take combatant roles as of 2011.
Even more remarkable are the diaspora girls who choose to leave behind family and friends to be a part of the IDF.
Chaya Winterseld who was born in Israel, but raised in Montreal, knew she wanted to join the IDF since the age of 11. She has been doing combat intelligence for seven and a half months and said that although it wasn’t easy getting the position she wanted, she was determined.
“When 24 I decided to make Aliyah. It was something I’d been thinking about for many years. I started seriously speaking to the army about drafting in October I had an interview in New York. We spoke about me joining the army and I told him that a few of the many reasons I had for wanting to join. I had to tell them that I really l wanted to join the army. At first it seemed like they didn’t want to draft me. It was a lot of and going back and forth until I was told that I would be drafted in July. I was told I could be a secretary for an officer and I told them it wasn’t interested in. I wanted to be a combat soldier.”
Winterseld laughs about the fact that her parents think she’s crazy for the decisions she’s made, but are also proud and supportive.
“[Women’s day] shows a generation how much women have done. It doesn’t matter, if you have a goal, you can reach that goal,” said Winterseld. “I’m happy,” she affirms.