Urgent call for more female recruits as British Armed Forces face staffing crisis

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LONDON:Defence Secretary Grant Shapps is calling for an increase in female involvement in the Armed Forces, citing concerns over the current diversity deficit. Amid a wider initiative to tackle the military’s staffing crisis, Shapps stresses the importance of retaining female personnel. The Navy, in particular, has seen a significant drop in new recruits, resulting in the decommissioning of two warships.

Shapps passionately advocates for a military that mirrors the nation’s diversity, pointing out the existing imbalance with only 11 to 12 percent of women in the forces, despite them making up half of the population. The Navy and Royal Marines have seen a notable 22.1 percent decrease in intake compared to the previous year.

In response to a defence committee report titled “Women in the Armed Forces: From Recruitment to Civilian Life,” the Government recognized the barriers hindering female recruitment. The report raised concerns about the perceived difficulties for women to succeed in military settings. Shapps highlighted the need for extra incentives to attract recruits, such as additional apprenticeships and showcasing a variety of opportunities at recruitment fairs.

Shapps emphasized the need to present the military as an “extraordinary career choice.” Currently, women make up 11.3 percent of the UK’s regular forces, 13 percent of the Royal Navy, nearly 16 percent of the Royal Air Force, and 10.3 percent of the Army. In the Royal Marines, female representation stands at 1.8 percent.