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Nearly one in five serving in Canadian military are women, census data shows

Almost one-fifth of those currently serving in the Canadian military are women. 
woman in military
According to the census, nearly one in six Canadian veterans are women.

Statistics Canada released on Wednesday the first census profile of the Canadian military, that includes information on veterans, in half a century. At the forefront of the report are women in the military. 

According to the census, almost one-fifth of those currently serving in the Canadian military are women. 

“This information addresses some important data gaps on the social characteristics and socioeconomic situations of Canadian military members, veterans and their families,” said Derek Abma, senior communications advisor for the Department of National Defence (DND), in a statement. 

When compared to other industries, the number of women is relatively low. The 2021 Labour Force Survey shows that women account for almost half of the employed labour force in Canada. Only two sectors showed similar numbers of women: construction with 13.2 per cent and forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas, with 18.5 per cent. 

While numbers may be low when compared to the other industries, the census suggests that Canada exceeds the 15 per cent target for 2028 set out by the United Nations for the share of women in the military. 

“The number of women serving in the military has been increasing over the years and continues to rise,” the Statistics Canada report said. 

Canada ranks in the top five countries for the highest percentage of full-time military women in 2019, along with Hungary, Greece, the United States and Bulgaria. 

When broken down further, the share of women serving in the military was lowest in the youngest age group, with 17.6 per cent among those aged 17 to 24 and highest in the oldest age group, with 21.5 per cent among those aged 55 to 64. This shows that many of the women currently serving are reaching retirement age. 

“To increase the share of women in the military in the coming years, more young women will need to be recruited to make up this gap,” the Statistics Canada report said.

According to Abma, the hope is that censuses such as this will support policy and program development at DND and Veterans Affairs Canada.