International Women's Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of women throughout the world and shine a spotlight on inspirational women from all walks of life. This year, the theme of International Women's Day is #ChooseToChallenge. Collectively, we can help to create a more inclusive world by questioning stereotypes and challenging inequality.
The North West Reserve Forces and Cadets Association have put Colonel Catherine Harrison, the first female Commandant at Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force in the #ChooseToChallenge hot seat. The county has just over 1,000 Cadets with 250 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (Officers and Adult Instructors). It is the responsibility of Colonel Harrison to command, train and administer the County effectively, efficiently and safely.
Welcome Catherine, to start could you explain your journey to becoming Commandant at Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force.
I started as a Cadet at the age of 14 in Burton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire and I never would have expected then to have reached the rank of Colonel. I changed counties and moved to Greater Manchester in 2012 and I have been here ever since. Through a range of courses, qualifications and over time promotions; I moved into my current role as Commandant in December 2020.
What challenges do you face in your role as Commandant?
Impostor syndrome, as I question should I have the rank of Colonel and should I be doing this role when it only feels so recent that I was a Cadet myself! In my role I have to plan 10 to 15 years ahead, so the decisions made for the County now I may not see come to fruition, so that can be a challenge.