Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO) Shannon Copeland, 18, from 148 (Barnsley) Squadron RAF Air Cadets (RAFAC) reflects on International Women’s Day:
As we celebrate International Women’s Day it dawns on me that I have been in the RAFAC for over 5 years. Throughout those years I have noticed and admired that the Air Cadets is an organisation that heavily embraces gender equality.
From the early 1980’s girls have been allowed to join the Air Cadets and the opportunities we have been offered have only continued to grow.
Last year we celebrated 100 years since women were allowed to join the armed forces, a lot has changed since then. In modern times the roles of women in the military has become increasingly prominent and rightfully recognised. Since 2016 women have been able to serve in armoured units and by the end of 2017 were allowed to apply for close combat jobs. The RAF was the first branch of the British Armed Forces to allow women into all its roles as they started accepting applications into the RAF Regiment – the air force’s ground fighting force for protecting air bases – a truly historic move.
148 (Barnsley) Squadron is a prime example of equality within the Air Cadets. All cadets within our Squadron are assessed by their ability and skills and are offered the same opportunities and equal status. No one is at a disadvantage because of their gender. It is certainly an organisation where women are free to thrive, progress and succeed.
The last three senior cadets at 148 (Barnsley) Squadron have been female, including myself. Furthermore, multiple key roles within the Squadron are managed and carried out by women; the adjutant, training officers (for both the training syllabus and recruitment), media, flying/gliding, adventure training, first aid and more! Equal respect and acceptance has enabled our Squadron to run efficiently and effectively and therefore allowed our cadets to progress.
All female cadets have achieved so much throughout their cadet careers and continue to do so thanks to the support of the squadron and the RAFAC as a whole. Personally, I have accomplished many things including my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, participated in the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme, 13 camps and in the National Marching Band, I have also been selected to attend the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) in Israel later this year. There is really no end to the opportunities that the RAFAC can offer women!
International Women’s Day is an amazing opportunity to recognise the work done to fight against gender inequality and here, women can be acknowledged, recognised and respected. It can be said that I am incredibly proud to be a woman in 148 (Barnsley) Squadron!
By CWO Shannon Copeland, 148 (Barnsley) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets
If you’re a fan of aviation, action and adventure, love sports and getting to know people consider joining the RAF Air Cadets. Every year nearly 56,000 air cadets and volunteer staff take part in exciting events all over the country. To learn more about the RAF Air Cadets click here. To contact 148 (Barnsley) Squadron RAFAC email [email protected].