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Breaking Down Military Fitness Barriers in the UK and Ireland

June 28, 2017

Armies in both the UK and Ireland are taking steps to make fitness tests less of an obstacle in recruiting and placing women. 

n the UK, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has announced plans to lift the ban on female soldiers fighting on the front lines as of this summer. In preparation, the army is revising fitness tests to reflect physical differences between men and women. An analysis of recent army recruits found that only 4.5% of women would meet current test standards. Other research found that women were twice as likely to suffer injuries during initial training. The new standards will aim to provide training targeted toward the physical requirements of a specific military role, rather than fitness goals optimized for male physiology. The new standards will be introduced as of 2019.

In Ireland, where less than 10% of its army is female, the Irish Defence Forces are working to increase recruitment through a major advertising campaign. As a part of this  recruitment effort, potential applicants will be provided informational materials, including instructional videos, outlining a training program to prepare for the army’s fitness test which has been seen as a barrier to more women applying. Sources:     The Sunday Times, April 3, 2016 Army targets more women http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/ireland/article1684262.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2016_04_02 The Sunday Times, April 3, 2016 Fitness test ‘relaxed’ to help put women on front line http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Defence/article1684552.ece The Daily Mail, April 6, 2016 Army fitness tests to be re-written to make sure female soldiers can qualify for front line duty http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3521538/Army-fitness-tests-written-make-sure-female-soldiers-qualify-line-duty.html  

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