Gender equality in the Israeli Defence Force

Azair, 19, graduated from Yeshiva University High Schools of Los Angeles. “In my high school, all the girls take a year off to study at a religious seminary in Israel before starting college, but I wanted to do something different,” she explains, beads of sweat pouring down her face. “I knew that if I joined the army, I wanted to have an intense experience, so I chose Caracal.”

Azair recalls a particularly tough week when she almost had second read more: about her decision. “We were on a 20-kilometer trek, and I’d been walking for four and a half hours, after not sleeping the night before, and we were going up and down hills with all our equipment on our backs, and I thought to myself ‘Why am I here?’ I just kept thinking that here I am, while all my friends are in the middle of their summer vacation. But in the end, I knew why I was here,” Azair recounts.

Danielle Shamol, also 19, is from Jerusalem. She says the intensive training has taught her that she’s much more capable physically than she had thought. “When I feel I can’t move on,” she says, sharing her tried-and-true method for perseverance, “I simply bite my lips and tell myself, ‘You can do it.’”

Endayehwe Ayele was 3 when she immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her family. She says her mother was reluctant to sign the waiver required from the parents of only children before they can join a combat unit. “But I worked on her,” she says, smiling mischievously.
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