Only 11.1% of military personnel in the EU are women. This is despite the fact that women can no longer be legally barred from serving in the armed forces, since a 2000 ruling by the European Court of Justice. Nevertheless, in most European countries we are still a long way from having a balanced and diverse army. This is shown by the #SHEcurity Index, which examines the proportion of women in foreign and security policy, military, police, diplomacy, and the armaments industry in EU Member States and G20 countries.

Want to learn more about diversity in Europe’s armed forces? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

The results of the #SHEcurity Index, launched by MEP Hannah Neumann, were recently presented and discussed at an event on “Post-Patriarchal Security: Inclusion and Equity for the Other 55%”, organised by the think tank Friends of Europe.

Women who meet the same physical standards as their male comrades may be excluded (officially or not) from certain positions in the armed forces. In the UK, for example, three out of ten positions in the British Army were closed to women until 2016 – a clear case of gender discrimination. But women are not the only group that experiences discrimination in the military. In Germany, for example, homophobia and transphobia are still widespread in the Bundeswehr, and the high number of suspected racist cases has raised questions around whether Germany’s armed forces have a structural problem with racism and right-wing extremism.

For many years there were concerns that mixed-gender units would lack cohesion. However, studies show that such problems can be overcome through training and leadership and that, in the long term, diverse teams work even better than homogeneous teams. It is also an important part of the everyday work of soldiers to build relationships with local populations. In Afghanistan, for example, Coalition forces were able to build trust and gather information from local women, who were more likely to speak to female soldiers.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Anna, who says: “Women should have a meaningful political voice in the military and in oversight of armed forces… Women need to be meaningfully included, because we are 50% of the population.”

To get a response, we put Anna’s comment to Hannah Neumann, a German MEP from the European Greens. On the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security, Hannah Neumann launched the #SHEcurity Index, in cooperation with a coalition of security think tanks and organisations. What would she say to Anna’s comment?

Next up, JBRS left us a comment saying: “Military forces should be integrated into society, be part of it, and citizens should not see the military as an enemy. The military is us.” Shouldn’t our armed forces, therefore, reflect the diversity of our societies?

We put this comment to Clare Hutchinson, NATO Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security for Gender Equality in the NATO Allied Forces. Would she agree with JBRS that our armed forces should reflect the diversity of our society?

Finally, we had a comment come in from Bruce, who thinks those countries which currently have mandatory military service (such as Austria) should expand the draft to include women as well. This is the approach Sweden has taken since 2017 and is one way to increase diversity in the armed forces.

How would Hannah Neumann respond?

What would Clare Hutchinson from NATO say?

Should there be greater diversity in the armed forces? What advantages could a more diverse military bring? How can we prevent discrimination in the military? Should compulsory military service, in the countries where it still exists, also be extended to women? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Flickr (c) Bundesheer Fotos Portrait Credits: © European Union 2020

107 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Will EU force women to be in a military? BTW, since when, EU has military? Next we need a debate on “should men be forced to wear pink clothes”… How about staying relevant, and debate “Who is responsible when vaccines turn out that are not safe?” Who in EU will go to jail? Or maybe “Is it treason if EU politicians do USA’s bidding?” or “How should treason committed on EU-level, be dealt with?”

  2. avatar

    Maybe a good idea to have women only armies …like amazons or valkyrie

  3. avatar

    A soldier has no gender. He/she needs to perform to certain standards, either in combat, either in support activities. If a citizen (man or woman) wants to join, he/she joins. If he/she proves to be up to the task, he/she stays. That’s it. In a combat unit all elements have to be ready. The enemy will obliterate you if you’re not and probably will even if you are. So, do not low standards with this “diversity” BS talk

  4. avatar

    No. Performance should always come first.

  5. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should there be greater diversity in the armed forces?

    You can’t get away with this as a valid question. Elaborate! What do you mean by ‘greater diversity’? What diversity already exists that you consider needs ‘greater’ expansion?

    What does this statement include in the words ‘greater diversity’? Does it mean, for example, taking the physical lead over men to be alpha front line killers? Victorious meddle winners of some kind in the battle field? The lead role as the fighter pilot or the warships captain not requiring the same suitability as men for the role proffered? And within that premise, does it mean the best woman in the intellectual as well as physical sense of it above the man she is competing with for position of top dog?

    And seemingly, it must now include within that requirement, men who believe they have left their masculine powered body under the idea of transgender positioning gaining posts on the front line as women, ahead of the female accepted as the optimum. Meaning, men competing for the kill against other men, under cover of being women, in order to win whatever advantage is given to women in this group? Or, not, as the case may be. This question needs absolute clarity. Vagueness in these matters, without fail, always turns out to prove the’ I didn’t know you meant that, circumstance. I thought it meant something quite opposite. Which results in a political ploy, used so often today, to confuse and destroy our sense of understanding the plan intended.

    And here we see this is really the forerunner to forcing women into conscription across the world. As they do in Israel.

    Is this what women ultimately want for their life destiny or are they being forced to ‘pretend’ this is for them, under the guise of, you better go along with this or you will suffer from being discarded?

  6. avatar

    Hughe surprise effect on the enemies – very advantageous at war ;)

  7. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    The EU presently discusses the “promotion, prevention and resolution of conflicts as a means to support peace and prosperity around the world.” Very well & to be applauded.

    Quite noticeable in the above link is a picture showing a gender ratio of 11:2 in favor of women around a discussion table.

    Such details don’t escape my observation and might be purely coincidental. However, it confirms that women are not sidelined but heavily involved in EU politics and advisors.

    The question arising is:
    that “Friends of Europe/DE” is seeking to promote- at the same time- an increase in the ratio of women/men in the military.

    God forbid if any of the “EU (militant) think tanks” will ever be empowered to switch to real “Main European Battle Tanks”- manned & driven by 50% women. Of course, only used as a last resort to settle conflicts! Between whom?

    We men become eventually disenfranchised, helpless, and unable to protect the rest of our women! What a sad idea & another EU-created fiasco!

    If such EU/FoE/DE promotion craze doesn’t stop very soon- when 50% women are needed to occupy parliaments, 50% needed in the armed forces, 50% in the bureaucracy, 50% in all professions- man have to ask:

    Where are all the women gone?

    Nobody left to fall in love with, nobody left to marry, nobody left to bear children, nobody to be called a mother, aunty nor grandmother……! No man wants to marry a battle ax!

    Yes, one doesn’t need wars anymore, because some of these crazed pc politicians & clever think tanks will manage to self-destruct the EU and Europe sooner or later!

    • avatar
      EU Reform Proactive

      As an afterthought & prayer to endow the promotors of such crazy ideas with more wisdom than they presently display– a reference & tribute to the ever-current, amazing, unforgettable, and incredible scenes from Les Misérables- ‘Bring Him Home’………..

      God on high
      Hear my prayer
      In my need
      You have always been there

      The recently amended song in an EU version is: Bring Her Home!

      Sorry Monsieur Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Nate, but we have to comply with EU political correctness!

  8. avatar

    Perhaps you should try « Burying Europe » as a new name for your page.

  9. avatar

    I suggest all military personel should be women. Remove the draft for men and apply the draft for women. I futher suggest we should have 95% female military. Men can ofcourse volenteer to sign up if they want.

  10. avatar

    Diversity should be maintained everywhere

  11. avatar

    50% men and 50% women in operation units. Everyone should have a chance to go fight for his or her country.

  12. avatar

    Should be better to stop all military activity, instead of also involving our women. P E A C E

  13. avatar

    Our fighting forces need to be selected on ability, not sex or gender.

  14. avatar

    It’s equal & Acceptance & By the way if one wants to have a Blueprint of Success Look No further that Og The Israel Military… Ever Last of the Teachers are ALL Women..& I have said enough.

  15. avatar

    Tim Suetens: claims women don’t have the emotional strength to be in the military.Also Tim Suetens: blocks somebody on facebook for giving counter-arguments to his fallacies.Has his entire facebook filled with rants about how hard it is to be a white, male cishet. And how unfair it is that he should share his privilege with others…So emotionally strong…

    • avatar
      catherine benning


      What privilege is his then? I am not following your gist? Why are his opinions fallacies and yours not? From my point of view, and being a woman to boot, I feel women are, in the main, far less likely to be ready to meet the battle field emotionally or physically. Transgender more likely to have the heart for it.

  16. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should there be greater diversity in the armed forces?

    This is an absolute insult to any sanity we have in our perception of gender. Biden is as mad as a hatter and he is the man who stands as ‘faux’ leader of the ‘Global’ world. The world did not vote for him to lead their nations into his unauthorised world view, even if Americans are willing to accept they voted these people as leaders for the USA. We did not.

    His claim is, ‘Globalism’ is where we are at in the ‘modern world.’ At the same time he claims this is carried out through ‘Democratic’ rule. Well democracy in the ‘Global’ world means, he and his sidekick have to be elected in every country he is claiming ‘leadership’ of as part of his Global vision..

    This can only works through Direct Democracy, Swiss style.

    In the meantime, this crazy old man and his rear ‘dancer/giggler’ Harris, must stop pushing their weird agenda globally. That is, until they openly expose their ‘diversity’ plans for the adults and children of this ‘Global’ entity to decide, through the ballot box, if these ‘woke’ issues he arbitrarily pushes are going to get ‘their’ vote. This includes you and me.

    More of the same. But this diversity in all things is far bigger than we are being advised presently. In the meantime this administration in the, ‘White House’ USA, has no mandate to practice any of this diversity moves on foreign soil. Their ‘diverse’ agenda has no place on the soil of any of us through these forces and athletes until we all have an election on whether it is what we want for us in our community. And morally it should be done immediately.

    This means throughout the entire Western world, then onto all nations covered by his assumption of what ‘Global’ in this context means to his law makers.

    One more time. Direct Democracy.

  17. avatar

    what do you think will hapen if in a conflict the enemy capture a transgender? Idiots!

    • avatar

      Fully agreed!

  18. avatar

    i have known one of the first girls wo did that very well! finally she left belgium for la france and airpplanes. 1977.

  19. avatar

    It’s normal. The army consists of volunteers. It is therefore the fault of women if they are few in the army.

  20. avatar

    Let those who can perform better to perform their proper functional role should be a principle. If women can do better than men or have interest in playing the war game in the armed forces, they would definitely go to the army. We would not see such a low percentage of female in the army.

  21. avatar
  22. avatar
  23. avatar

    In the reality-based community, not being expected to serve in the military is considered a privilege.

  24. avatar

    In the reality-based community, not being expected to serve in the military is considered a privilege.

  25. avatar
  26. avatar
  27. avatar

    Yes there should be. More rich people will keep the idiots of sending the troops to die

  28. avatar

    Yes there should be. More rich people will keep the idiots of sending the troops to die

  29. avatar

    No. That’s more then the enough!!

  30. avatar

    No. That’s more then the enough!!

  31. avatar

    All military rolls should be opened up for women. And if conscription happens it should be gender neutral. But I don’t see a reason to specifically seek out to recruit women. Or men. Juist recruit who is willing to serve.

    • avatar

      Peré Kox I agree.

    • avatar

      Peré Kox I agree.

  32. avatar

    All military rolls should be opened up for women. And if conscription happens it should be gender neutral. But I don’t see a reason to specifically seek out to recruit women. Or men. Juist recruit who is willing to serve.

  33. avatar

    I had a long time loughing hard like this…..

  34. avatar

    Yes. More women need to die in armed combat. That progressive enough for ya?

    • avatar

      And for those who don’t get sarcasm right away … Of course, everyone who is qualified and willing to serve, should be able to join the armed forces, regardless of innate traits such as sex or sexual orientation. But introducing measures to artificially increase the number of any group, based on any other criteria than qualification, will include the lowering of standards to allow more people in who are less qualified than they need to be. And this will lead to dangerous situations and more casualties.

  35. avatar

    as long as they can handle the same job with the same training and the same results no problemknow a few female soldiers

  36. avatar

    Diversity for the sake of diversity is incredibly stupid, toxic and dangerous. We don’t need quotas. But we also should not discount someone on account of their sex. There should be objective operational standards for each role and people wanting to fill those roles should be able to meet those standards. What we need to look out for is the lack of discrimination during the hiring process. We shouldn’t try to alter statistics to artificially create more diversity if, for example, women don’t tend to want one role or the other, and the same should also go for men.

    • avatar

      Pablo Collu yes yes we tried for DECADES not to put quota. It doesnt work. You know what does ? Freaking quotas. Are they fair ? No, by definition they are not. Are they the only thing really working so far ? Yes. Hopefully we wont need them in the near future because the system would have adapted, women will be in higher ranked, will be part of the recruitment process and will help shape a new environment that is attractive and fair for all genders.

    • avatar

      Sarah Bernolet And then you end up wondering if you got the job because you’re actually good or because you’re the mandatory diversity hire.What’s the goal that we failed to achieve for decades? A “naturally” occurring equal share of women and men in the workplace?

  37. avatar

    If they pas the same test as men and they don’t make the tests easier.

  38. avatar

    That is simple. Like most physical and potential violent jobs, women are way less interested in it. Women tend to focus more on care-giving than enforcing jobs, that is why you also see so many female teachers and nurses. Secondly, the military is physicaly demanding. It is more difficult for women to meet the necessary requirements, something you also see with firemen.

    • avatar
    • avatar

      William Greif are you dumb ww2 and now ?!

    • avatar

      William Greif Obviously. But who is more capable of carrying a heavy backpack on a march for hours? Who has more strength in melee combat? Who has more reach to climb or jump over obstacles?

    • avatar

      Matthias Van Belle The strong ones ?I see your point but aren’t those tendencies to choose a job more based on a different enculturation for men and women than physical capabilities (which is still debatable knowing that women can endure more pain than men, for instance : childbirth) ?I’m sure that enrolment of men will reduce progressively if “masculinities” and “male Culture” are redefined. I’m not saying that it would be a “good” or “bad” thing but there is maybe more in that debat than “the way things actually are”.

    • avatar

      Matthias Van Belle may be women feel less like joining the forces because of people like you ? You have a simplistic vision of not only women but of the entire sector.

    • avatar

      William Greif Men have proportionaly and absolutely more muscle mass than women, so in a sense the strong ones is right. Women have a higher pain treshold and are less prone to sickness but men tend to supress it more. If it was pure enculturation we would not have the need to divide physical sports into female and male separated competitions. Sure, the degree of women in the armed forces could still increase if the army is also less perceived as a male thing. But it will never reach near 50/50 because of the physical conditions. Women have also a few physical advantages, like they are better fit as tank crew than men because they tend to be more slender and small.

    • avatar

      Sarah Bernolet No.

    • avatar

      Matthias Van Belle

    • avatar

      A very simplistic vision and a unmature personality.

    • avatar

      Christian Deraedt What is wrong with it then? Well then? Come on? What are you waiting for? Enlighten me, how is it then? Or do you have no clue? Do you not understand the laws of the world? Why can some people bring up arguments and points and others just start trash talk? I know why, but the latter group would not like the answer though.

  39. avatar

    Why would you want to force women to do jobs they are clearly less interested in than men? And if you insist on considering this “lack of diversity” a valid criticism, when can we expect quota for men becoming nurses for example? 90% of nurses are women, such “bigotry”!Guess what, men and women are not the same and they will be attracted to different professions. This is just the woke crowd thinking they can defeat nature again.

  40. avatar

    women have the option to enroll and get no special treatment because on the battlefield your enemy doesn’t care about anything else than killing you so in another words who cares, enroll if you like, just make the cut

  41. avatar

    Killing more women at war is the new feminism?

  42. avatar

    Why do we need an EU army ???? for Nato ???? to frighten Poutine ??? And once again this WOKE … women and men are not the same ! don’t try to standardise human labour and army. This kind of ideology is destructive !!

  43. avatar

    There should not be EU armed forces, we must have sovereign countries. EU is a nasty expensive joke!

  44. avatar

    yeah. measures. that will really help.

  45. avatar

    Каждый раз забывают

  46. avatar

    Think not only women but also:Tran en pan sexuals ,a bit of clones ,maybe a necrofile or 2 ,some hetro sexuals a bit of lesbians ,a few gays… yeah europewould be feared again.

  47. avatar

    The armed forces is to protect the Europe. It is a matter of live and die, it is dangerous to politicize gender issue in armed forces. Let the most suitable ones talk their proper role.

  48. avatar

    Nothing! The same way you can’t promote equality between man and women in boxing, weight lifting, sprinting, swimming, etc. Generally speaking, men are stronger, faster and fitter than women when it is a requirement for their chosen career.I believe it would be possible in countries such as Sweden and Ireland where they don’t actively invade other countries for “liberation” purposes.

    • avatar

      Mike Macnamara But mental strengh is also required, in some branches of the military even more than the physical one.And this is where women are much better.

    • avatar

      Mike Macnamara That’s debateable. Perhaps women need to exercise more to achieve the same level of muscular mass, but that doesn’t mean some can’t, even if in a lower number. The best that could be done would be to make them pass the same tests and make sport cathegories depending on the grade they got. Boxing already has those grades depending on weight, so it would be really easy to integrate.Besides, nowadays the army is more about resistance and training than brute strength. Women entering armies already have to pass the same test, so it’s just a matter of reaching more to them and making specialised longer training to achieve similar results. And it’s also known that in matters of phisical resistance women are higher on the median.

  49. avatar

    But what diversity are you talking about? in the army there are already men, women, all religions and races. What are you talking about?

    • avatar

      José Lambrux Gonçalves Numbers also matter. Only having a few of those hardly equals diversity. On a scientific level, you need a 30% of non white straight males to influence decision taking.

    • avatar

      Marc Hernández Capeta and who established that threshold?

  50. avatar

    99% of the refuse collectors are men, it is time for more gender representation in that industry

  51. avatar

    Reduce men to equal women number. Anyway army has not any job to do

  52. avatar

    Yes, continue making your armed forces softer and weaker. The Taliban, IS, China, Iran and North Korea are all loving it.

  53. avatar

    I don’t think so. We don’t have to achieve a 50/50 gold ratio on everything.

  54. avatar

    Womem brigade only want equality in soft glamorous corporate jobs…

  55. avatar

    For what reason? Virtual signalling or does anyone actually believe this will improve the armed forced. Depends on which country I suppose, French women can no doubt hold a white flag the same as French men I guess?

  56. avatar

    Army entry requirements should be the same regardless of the person’s gender. The best should be accepted.

  57. avatar

    Soldiers don’t have gender! He/she only have to be able to accomplish the assigned task no matter the costs. Anyway you have to clarify what is ” greater diversity.

  58. avatar

    Honestly that would be great..but the assault course and directed training are way too intensive..not sure that women want that sort of torture to do a job..if youre a fittness person this might just be the job for you. If there was a more relaxed approach to fitness(example: leaving it up to the own individual persons choice when to train in the gym or go for a run..that might entice more women in..anyway..lots of great engineering jobs there ,computers and data personell..anyway..just some thoughts (from a way too old mum!!

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