Just one in 15 military personnel are female

Only one in 15 members of the Irish Defence Forces are women — less than half the number of women serving in the US military.

The latest figures for 2018 show there are 591 women in the Irish Defence Forces — making up 6.5% of the 9,057 personnel working in the army, naval service, and air corps.

While the army and navy averaged just under 7% when it came to female members, the air corps have less than one in 20 women, or just under 5% of women, in their ranks.

In last two years, the Defence Forces have been on a drive to recruit more women with recruitment videos targeted specifically at sporty women.

Information provided to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers, revealed a total of 751 new recruits were inducted in 2017 — of which 73 or 9.7% were female.

Women have a much stronger presence in the military in the US, where figures show that 16% of enlisted personnel last year were women, up from 11% in 1990.

However, the proportion of women in the ranks varies significantly by service branch in America.

While women comprise nearly one in five active-duty personnel in the air force (19%) but only 8% of all marines. Women make up 19% of the navy and 14% of the army.

When it comes to the British army, 9% of the armed forces are women.

The Israeli army is seen as the most progressive in the world, with women making up one third of the defence forces and around half of its officers.

On the other end of the scale, women account for only 1.3% of the Turkish army, while Italian women are not queuing up to join the military either, with women accounting for only 4.3% of the country’s armed forces.

The neutral Swiss have one of the poorest gender balances, with only 3% of their defence forces made up of women.

Nato figures show New Zealand is another world leader with 17% of its defence forces are female while 15% of Canada’s defence forces are women.

The minister of state at the Department of the Defence, Paul Kehoe, told the Dáil there will be a recruitment drive on for new Defence Forces recruits this year.

“It is anticipated that in the region of 800 personnel, comprising of general service recruits, apprentices, cadets and direct entry officers will be recruited to the Permanent Defence Forces in 2018,” said Mr Kehoe.

“I remain committed to maximising recruitment of capable personnel, developing serving personnel, and so achieving the best personnel and skills combination to ensure the Defence Forces retain the capacity to operate effectively across all roles required of them by government.”

A Nato report on women in the military around the world said Ireland has been actively seeking to increase female participation in the defence forces.

“Initiatives include a female-specific recruitment video, engagement with professional marketing strategy agency, female-specific on-line messaging and female information days for those that applied to join the Defence Forces,” said the Nato report on the presence on women in the military.

It added that there are no restrictions on the incorporation of women in the Defence Forces in Ireland.

“Personnel are selected for various appointments on their competency and merit,” said the report.


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