Belgian army opens pop-up in Antwerp shopping centre to recruit women
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    Belgian army opens pop-up in Antwerp shopping centre to recruit women

    Only 9% of the Belgian army staff members are women. Credit: Belga

    The Belgian army has opened a pop-up store in Wijnegem shopping centre in Antwerp to specifically recruit women.

    “I have noticed that a lot of visitors in the mall are women. That is why we have decided to open a popup shop in Wijnegem Shopping Center, from today to 17 March. An information office for anyone interested in a career in the army,” said Commander Johan Coenen, on Radio 2 Antwerpen.

    “It has been 45 years since the first woman joined us. At the moment, 9% of our staff members are women, and that needs to get better,” he added.

    Every day of the spring break period, at the end of February, the Defence Department has planned an event in the shopping centre. “Every segment of the Army gets a chance to introduce itself. For example, the ground forces will bring cannons. There will also be female soldiers present every day, to have a chat about their job,” he added.

    The idea behind the pop-up in the shopping centre is to be “present in places where people do not expect it.”

    “We have chosen Wijnegem because up to 25,000 people a day pass through there, easily. Above all, we want to appeal to as large an audience as possible,” said Lieutenant Colonel Sandra Bertocchi on Radio 1 in the “De wereld vandaag” programme.

    In 2020, the Defence Department is looking for 2,035 new staff members. “Our job offer is very broad, for women too. For example, we have vacancies for technical, logistical and combat support profiles,” said Coenen. “We are looking for women with a sporty and adventurous character. Team players who are not afraid to be away from home for longer periods of time. Dealing with weapons and tough physical challenges are also part of the job package,” he added.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times