Have conscripted women fought in any notable battles or wars? Wikipedia's article on Conscription of Women does not mention any concrete examples.


3 Answers 3


Wikipedia lists 9 countries that conscript women:

. . . only nine countries have laws allowing for the conscription of women into their armed forces: China, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Norway, Bolivia and Taiwan.

I am aware of two of those countries that have recently engaged in combat.

  1. Libya has recently fought a civil war; women probably fought. I can't find any records of Qaddafi's amazon guard fighting, although I would assume they did so.
  2. Israel has definitely had women in combat.

Obviously in the pre-modern period, conscription was the norm - in a feudal society, military service is effectively conscripted. (If you fail to show up for feudal levies the government will punish you; we could argue the edge cases of this, but for the purposes of this question, I think it stands). Nicchola de la Haye was the castellan of Lincoln castle during the Baronial revolt against John. She defended the castle. If she had not done so, she would have been brought to account by her government.

Modern military service is generally volunteer service (once again, I am aware of exceptions to the rule, but I don't think they affect the question). Individuals are not conscripted to fight, but once they volunteer, the government will punish them for failing to fight. I mention this because there are hundreds if not thousands of women in combat positions, many of whom have seen service. Major Rossi was the first US woman known to have given her life in combat.

Other sources:

  • 1
    Does Nicchola de la Haye count as a conscript? It would seem to me that her military service was ex officio.
    – Steve Bird
    Aug 30, 2016 at 12:17
  • The first question is interesting; I believe that it does; all feudal military service is conscripted by OP's definition. I don't understand the second question; I don't see any evidence that de la Haye's service was "ex officio", except in the sense that all feudal offices were "ex officio".
    – MCW
    Aug 30, 2016 at 12:21
  • 2
    Upvoted. I'd suggest prioritizing the Israel angle though, and perhaps coming up with a specific example or two, since "concrete examples" were specifically asked for. It isn't easy to find countries that still have conscription, that level of equality for women, and engage in a lot of fighting. Israel would certainly seem like your best bet.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 30, 2016 at 13:48
  • If Nicola de la Haie count as a conscripted soldier, Margaret Thatcher does also count as she was the Prime during the Falkland War and all the queens in history. In my opinion, conscription does mean something else than being a feudal warlord.
    – Greg
    May 3, 2021 at 5:29

Let us not forget the fearsome amazon warriors of Dahomey in West Africa.

Borghero listens, but his mind is wandering. He finds the general captivating: “slender but shapely, proud of bearing, but without affectation.” Not too tall, perhaps, nor excessively muscular. But then, of course, the general is a woman, as are all 3,000 of her troops. Father Borghero has been watching the King of Dahomey’s famed corps of “amazons,” as contemporary writers termed them—the only female soldiers in the world who then routinely served as combat troops.

  • 1
    but were they conscripts or professionals. We'll probably never know.
    – jwenting
    Aug 29, 2016 at 11:37

In the USSR they mostly conscripted only women to work as rear personnel. There were some women's fight units as well but formed on volunteer basis.

In the USSR in 1942 there were 3 waves of mobilization of the women.

  • The first one for 100 000 Komsomol women into air defense.
  • The second one for 30 000 women into communications service
  • The third one for 40 000 women mainly into logistics service and to serve as secretaries.

In 1943 there were the following women mobilizations:

  • The first one for 4 200 mainly for service for service personnel (cooks, laundry etc).

  • The second was for 25 000 women but this was on voluntary basis.

I would also add the following air force regiments composed of volunteer women pilots:

  • The 586 Women's Fighter Regiment
  • The 587 Women's Near Bomber regiment
  • The 588 Women's Night Aviation Regiment
  • So the USSR is out of scope for this question - the women who were conscripted, were not in combat roles.
    – MCW
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    @Mark C. Wallace yes, I have added the info. Possibly only the first mobilization counts as somewhat combat role.
    – Anixx
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:43
  • Was WWII air defense a combat role?
    – MCW
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:44
  • @Mark C. Wallace yes, they were mobilized both to combat roles and non-combat roles, but even combat roles were mostly in rear cities, not at front lines. Also they were from Komsomol, so there are chances that they even if not volunteered at war time, were trained voluntarily before the war.
    – Anixx
    Aug 30, 2016 at 15:46
  • If I correct there were a few Soviet snipers (with significant achievements, too): those definitely combat roles, though the ones I know volunteered to be in the infantry as opposed to eg being a nurse.
    – Greg
    May 3, 2021 at 5:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.