Women make a vital and valued contribution to our Armed Forces and to our country. However, serious challenges remain. Female personnel are more likely to make complaints, more likely to report mental health difficulties and more likely to be subject to sexual assaults. We need to understand the scale, nature and root of the challenges that female personnel face. Only then can we begin to address the incidence in which the services have failed female serving personnel and identify the solutions.
My hope is that this inquiry will provide servicewomen and veterans, who have too often struggled to get their voices heard, with a platform to discuss their experiences frankly, freely and without fear of repercussions. There is worrying data to suggest a disparity in the experiences of women and men both during and after leaving the Armed Forces that demands serious examination. Neglecting to do so is a disservice to those prepared to lay down their lives for our safety and protection.
Our Forces are stronger, richer and more capable when they are diverse and inclusive. A robust Armed Forces includes personnel from all walks of life, with different experiences and fresh perspectives. This is not only the right thing to do but contributes directly to operational effectiveness. We need the right person for the right role, and it is in no one’s interest to discourage women from joining and remaining in the Armed Forces.
The Committee will look at:
- Whether the Government and MoD is doing enough to address any additional challenges
- how easy it is to make a complaint, and identify what barriers there are to female personnel complaining
- whether the experiences of female BAME personnel differ
- why women chose to leave the Armed forces
- whether ex-servicewomen face different challenges to men during their transition to civilian life
- whether the needs of female veterans are currently met by the available services; and
- the effect that the introduction of the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Act (2010) has had
Other areas of interest that the Committee are keen to cover within the scope of the inquiry include issues around pensions, terms and conditions of employment, housing and general wellbeing.
As part of this inquiry, the Committee will be taking evidence from female service personnel about their experiences serving.
The sub-committee will be taken written evidence between now and 31st January 2021, there are two different ways of doing so.
- You can submit evidence via an anonymous survey, which can be found here
- The survey allows the Defence Committee to collect a lot of data quickly, and is best suited for individuals
- At the end there is a free text box with an unlimited word limit.
- This survey is open for 2 weeks and will close on 14th December 2020.
- You can submit written evidence via the Defence Select Committee's website where documents and longer pieces of text can be submitted, and can be accessed here.
- This is best suited for organisations or charities who would like to submit evidence. Individuals can also submit further evidence here in addition to their survey submission.
- Written evidence in this form can be submitted any time before 31st January 2021.