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

32 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!

  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.

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