Skip to Content
Sisters in Arms cover photo

Sisters in Arms 2010


Distributed by Women Make Movies, 115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200,New York, NY, 10001; 212-925-0606
Producer n/a
Directed by Beth Freeman
DVD , color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Military, Occupations, War, Women’s Rights

Date Entered: 10/30/2013

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

In 2013, the U.S. Pentagon ended official restriction of combat roles for women in the armed services. Beginning in 2016, women in the U.S. military will be trained for ground combat. Radical as the elimination of combat exclusion policies appears to be, the U.S. is not the first nation to do so. Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, and Israel place no restrictions on roles for women in their defense forces. In 1989, the Canadian Armed Forces were mandated by law to recognize equal rights for women in the military and given 10 years to recruit and train women into the combat trades There are currently about 250 women (or 2% of the total number of enlisted) working in these occupations.

This short film looks at the lives of three of these women as they prepare, serve and then return home from deployment in Afghanistan. Master Corporal Kimberley Ashton is a military engineer; Katie Hodges serves in the infantry; Tamar Freeman is a medic and sister of the filmmaker. Each speaks candidly about the professional and personal rewards serving in combat provides while also acknowledging the difficult mental and physical challenges any woman would face in these roles. In addition to conversations with the subjects before and after deployment, individual video diary excerpts and photographs from Afghanistan are used.

Brief interviews with family members as well as high-ranking female officers further examine the costs and benefits of women serving in combat roles. Interestingly, for all these women, the right to serve in the combat trades is a matter of gender equity and representation, not idealism or patriotism. This is a timely film that is recommended, particularly for young women considering employment in the combat trades.