For International Women’s Day, we have collected some of our favourite photos of women in uniform taken throughout NATO’s history. Women are integral to the success of Allied forces, filling vital roles like pilot, engineer, medic, radio and telephone operator, soldier and strategic planner, to name just a few.
Ground crew gives a thumbs up to a pilot on the runway at NATO Headquarters Allied Forces Mediterranean (AFMED) in Lascaris, Malta. AFMED helped coordinate NATO forces across southern Europe and the Mediterranean region from 1952 to 1967.
An engineer pauses her work on the wing of a plane to wave at the camera. AFMED, Lascaris, Malta, ca. 1953.
A servicewoman hangs a map for strategic planning at Headquarters Allied Forces Southern Europe (HQ AFSOUTH), in Naples, Italy. In 1967, all forces in the south and Mediterranean were assigned to HQ AFSOUTH, which would eventually become Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples.
A telephone operator receives an incoming message. Allied Mediterranean Command was created on 9 December 1952. The headquarters were activated on 15 March 1953 at Lascaris, Malta.
Women in uniform browse items at the famous ‘bouquinistes’ book stalls along the Seine, outside the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris in 1956, when NATO Headquarters were located at the Palais de Chaillot, across from the Eiffel Tower.
Two aircraft plotters from the Women’s Royal Danish Air Force (Kvindeligt Flyvekorps) track the movements of aircraft flying over the Baltic area at NATO Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (BALTAP) headquarters in Karup, Denmark in June 1962. According to files from NATO Archives, after a similar photo was featured in a UK publication and a NATO Review article in 1966, the dark-haired woman received a significant amount of fan mail from readers.
Military personnel from various NATO member countries share a laugh during a visit to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium in April 1975.
French soldiers conduct target practice during a field exercise. NATO armed forces regularly participated in multinational military exercises throughout Europe during the Cold War to ensure that they would be prepared for any potential crisis or conflict.
An officer walks past the French military vessel Henri Poincaré, a test and measurement vessel in service from 1968 to 1991.
A Canadian contingent of military personnel forms ranks in front of a Royal Canadian Air Force plane, 1975.
A servicewoman raises the NATO flag aboard a Spanish Armed Forces ship. © Spanish Armed Forces / Armada
A Swedish sailor holds a buoy fender while HSwMS Karlstad comes alongside the pier in Trondheim, Norway for a port call prior to NATO Exercise Trident Juncture 18. Trident Juncture 18 took place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea in October 2018.
Lieutenant Katarzyna Tomiak -Siemieniewicz, Poland’s first female MiG-29 fighter pilot, stands beside a jet. “The aircraft won’t forgive any mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, we are all pilots”. In this 2019 video, she discusses flying a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft as part of NATO’s air defence.
A British soldier plunges into ice-cold water during ice jump exercise in Estonia, February 2021. As part of Exercise Winter Camp, British and Estonian soldiers trained in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.
A Turkish medic practises providing emergency medical assistance to injured submariners suffering from decompression illness in a decompression chamber aboard TCG Alemdar (A-582) during exercise Dynamic Monarch/Kurtaran in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, September 2021.