Lt Commander Kelly Begg
On 17 October 2016, Johnsonville Rotary had as guests the Johnsonville Lions.
The guest speaker was Lt Commander Kelly Begg of the Royal NZ Navy (RNZN).
Kelly joined the NZ Navy in 2001. She explained how the Navy has developed over the years and become increasingly gender neutral. The Navy became the RNZN 75 years ago (prior to that it was part of the British Royal Navy). Women were first enrolled with the navy during WW2 (as Wrens), for things like typing and signals, but largely cut back after the war. In the 1960s the Wrens were re-formed and became an official part of the navy. The navy became far more inclusive of women from the 1980s, and the Wrens were fully integrated into the navy. The RNZN became the most progressive part of the defence services, but women were excluded from conflict roles and zones initially. This changed in the 1990s when women could act in all roles, and went to conflict zones like the Persian Gulf. New ships are now designed for both sexes.
These changes have been reflected in Kelly’s career in the navy. This has taken her to Saudi Arabia with the Governor General (she was the only woman in a group of 3000 at the gathering they attended), 6 months doing logistics at Bagram base in Afghanistan, and doing naval drug patrols off East Africa.
Kelly is now Director of recruiting for the RNZN. They took around 700 of the approximately 12,500 applicants for the Navy recently. Women now make up 22% of the navy personnel and occupy all major positions in the Navy.