Women now make up more than 10% of Belgian soldiers

Women now make up more than 10% of Belgian soldiers

For the first time, over 10% of military personnel are now female, according to figures provided by Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder, at the request of Federal MP Jasper Pillen.

This milestone was reported to have passed last year. In January 2022, 2,505 out of a total 24,538 were women, or 10.21%. In October last year, the proportion grew to 2,619 women out of 24,348 soldiers, or 10.76%.

In absolute terms, 415 women have joined the Belgian Armed Forces in the last five years, with the total proportion of women rising from 7.92% to 10.76% in this period.

“With retirement, the total number of military personnel has decreased since 2017, while the absolute number of women has increased,” the MP explained.

The Medical Component of the Belgian Armed Forces had the largest share of women, the data reveals  –where around a third of medical positions are held by women. The share of women in the Land Component amounted to 6.74%, 10% within the Air Component, and 13% for the Marine Component.

The data also accounts for civilians hired by the military, where half of the civilians employed by the Belgian Armed Forces are women. This share is continuing to grow, Pillen said.

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“The minister wants to drastically increase the number of civilian positions in the Belgian Armed Forces in the coming years. I fully support this objective. It is therefore expected that feminization will continue,” the MP said.

According to the politician, further work is needed to make the Belgian armed forces more reflective of the rest of society. “It is also important that everyone feels welcome,” he added, referring to sexist and abusive behaviour faced by some female members of the Belgian Armed Forces. Action is still needed in this field, he believes.

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