The Female Figures That Left Their Mark on Army History

Today, the 8th of March is the day the world celebrates the achievements of women in all sectors; politics, business, society, culture, and art. In addition, women demand gender equality to benefit from the same opportunities as men. Here we can talk about salary, recognition and promotion opportunities.

The first attempts began in 1907 in New York, Germany, Russia, and the other European countries. Then in 1977, it was officially recognized as International Women’s Day by The United Nations.

The United Nations sets a theme each year to celebrate this day. It was #metoo #timeisup in 2018, #eachforqual in 2019, and #breakthebias this year. It encourages all women over the world to join this movement to break free from all social prejudices in their families, schools, and workplaces.

A woman cannot be successful as a man, it is a man’s job, a woman’s productivity decreases when she gets married or has children, and a woman puts her family first… All these stereotypes are circulating in our society today in different ways.

We decided to join this movement our way by showcasing some of the most popular female figures in military history.

Women proved their worth and played crucial roles in many wars. As soldiers, doctors, nurses, and even reporters. It is proof that women can do everything when the chance is given.

In this article, we will highlight 7 figures who have left their mark on the history of the military all over the world. The women we will talk about;

  • Florence Nightingale
  • Sarah Emma Edmonds
  • Mariana Grajales de Maceo
  • Marguerite Higgins
  • Fatima Zohra Ardjoune
  • Milunka Savić
  • Sabiha Gokcen

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, born in 1820, or other saying “The Lady with the Lamp” was a brave British nurse who left behind a rich and peaceful life treating soldiers after the Crimean War during the Ottoman Empire.

In addition to treating soldiers’ wounds and teaching young nurses about them, she focused on the importance of hygiene, sanitation, and proper nourishment taking to keep warriors healthy during battles.

She proved that numerous soldiers did not die from injuries, but diseases caused by the above-mentioned problems.

She was called The Lady with the Lamp, as she spent all nights alone caring for the sick.

Sarah Emma Edmonds

Sarah Emma Edmonds also started her career as a nurse but it didn’t last long. She fled from Canada to the USA when she was a teenager because of her abusive father. Then she joined the second Michigan Infantry for serving as a field nurse under the name Franklin Flint Thompson when the Civil War arose.

Her career changed when she started wearing disguises to spy on the enemy. She was captured and abandoned for several years, but in 1897 she became the only woman to be accepted into the Grand Army of the Republic, known as the Civil War Veterans Organization. She passed away one year later.

Mariana Grajales

Mariana Grajales fought for the independence of Cuba during the Ten Years’ War, Little War, and the War of 1895.

She participated along with her husband and son. Her role was mainly focused on running hospitals, Controlling provision grounds, and treating wounded fighters on the battlefields.

She was exiled to Jamaica after the death of her husband to protect the rest of her family. For the last 15 years of her life, she continued organizing groups of Cuban exiles in Jamaica.

Cubans have dedicated a lot of projects to commemorate the efforts of Mariana and her family. Mariana Grajales Airport, Antonio Maceo Airport, and Mariana Grajales Women’s Squad, to mention a few. She was also named “The mother of Cuba”.

Marguerite Higgins

“I wouldn’t be here if there were no trouble. Trouble is news, and the gathering of news is my job.”

This is the motto of the American journalist Marguerite Higgins, who covered multiple wars and political events from her early beginnings.

Her first time was in 1944 during the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp and the trials at Nuremberg. Then, she covered the Korean War, and the Vietnam War and worked as a syndicated columnist for Newsday.

She received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1951.

Fatima Zohra Ardjoune

Fatima Zohra Ardjoune is the first woman in the Arab world and the first Algerian to serve as a general of the Ain Naadja Military Hospital.

She joined the People’s National Army of Algeria in 1972 to work on research about bloodborne diseases with her husband.

From commandant to a professor to lieutenant colonel, her career was full of achievements.

After her thesis was approved, she worked at universities supervising research students at the National School of Military Health after their graduation.

Milunka Savić

This Serbian woman was recognized for many achievements in a short period. She disguised herself as a man to fight against the enemy in the first Balkan war on behalf of her brother.

Her identity was revealed when she was wounded and treated in a hospital. But thanks to her competence and skills, they accepted her as a warrior woman.

She received 8 awards in total. Karađorđe Star with Swords twice, the French Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor) twice, the Russian Cross of St. George, the British medal of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael, the Serbian Miloš Obilić medal, and the French Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 with the gold palm attribute for service in World War I.

To commemorate this Serbian heroine, Jošanička Banja, they have opened a memorial complex with a permanent exhibition in 2020. Furthermore, a Swedish band devoted a song to her, entitled “Lady of the Dark”

From the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia, women have proved their strength and success in one of the most difficult jobs in the world, a soldier. Indeed, One day isn’t enough to celebrate their worth, yet it’s a good opportunity to show them gratitude, love, and appreciation.

Sabiha Gokcen

Sabiha Gökçen was a Turkish aviator. During her flight career, she flew around 8,000 hours and participated in 32 different military operations. She was the world’s first female fighter pilot, aged 23. As an orphan, she was one of the thirteen children adopted by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

She has many awards and commemorations. Some of them; the second airport in Istanbul, was named after her (Sabiha Gökçen International Airport), She is recognized as the first female combat pilot by The Guinness Book of World Records and was selected as the only female pilot for the poster of “The 20 Greatest Aviators in History” published by the United States Air Force in 1996.

Sabiha Gökçen died of heart failure at 88 in 2001.