Military reports minimal progress in drive to add more women to the ranks

Reeling from stories of inappropriate sexual actions at the most senior levels and beset by hundreds of sexual harassments and sexual assault reports, the Canadian Armed Forces says recruitment of women remains low.

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is reporting minimal progress at the midway point of its 10-year drive to increase the number of women in uniform.

In 2016, then-defence chief general Jonathan Vance set a goal of having women represent one-quarter of the Canadian Armed Forces' members over the next decade.

Yet new figures provided by the military show the percentage of service members who are women has increased from 15 per cent five years ago to 16.3 per cent this month.

And experts say any hopes of dramatically increasing those numbers over the next five years have undoubtedly been hurt by the military's failure to address sexual misconduct in the ranks.

The Canadian Army boasted the smallest percentage of women in uniform at 13.8 per cent, compared to around 20 per cent for the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

The military has also seen limited progress increasing the percentage of service members who are Indigenous over the past five years, but has seen better success when it comes to adding other people of colour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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