Gender Inequalities: Armed Forces

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 13th July 2022.

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Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on tackling gender inequalities in the armed forces.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Women are an integral part of our armed forces and have thriving careers, as my hon. Friend will know from her report, which contained a number of important recommendations. Having tested those with the Army Servicewomen’s Network, we are adopting almost all of them. We have a target of a 30% in-flow of women into the armed forces by 2030. We have improved equipment and uniforms and wraparound childcare. Most importantly, we want to generate a military culture that respects women.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

Since the Defence Committee’s report that highlighted inequalities for women in the military, the Ministry of Defence has made good, if not excellent, progress and change is being felt on the ground. The MOD went further and committed to hosting an international Five Eyes conference to share best practice. Will the Minister commit to attending with me?

Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries of the Future and Blockchain Technologies), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (PPS to the Westminster Leader)

Following the report from the Defence Sub-Committee, which was chaired by Sarah Atherton, may I ask the Minister why, if the Government are taking gender equality in the armed forces seriously, they do not learn from the report from the Sub-Committee and make sure that rape goes into civilian courts and does not remain on an unequal basis in the court martial system?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

When the hon. Member sees the formal response to the report, he will have no doubt that we are taking note of these recommendations in absolute earnest. The feedback that I get from young women serving in all roles right across defence is that women should really look forward to service life. There are terrific role models that they can be very proud of.