State Secretary Katrin Suder welcomes visiting schoolgirls to the Federal Ministry of Defence

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(© www.girls-day.de)

The Federal Ministry of Defence in Berlin will be among those marking the German Government’s Girls'Day to promote future prospects for girls on 27 April 2017.

As part of the event, girls can gain a practical overview of what career prospects the Ministry and the Bundeswehr can offer young women.

The event is particularly important to State Secretary Katrin Suder, who will welcome the 50 or so participants to the premises. They will have a chance to chat, and a group photo is planned as a record of the day.

The pupils will also get to know various possible careers in the armed forces, partly through practical demonstrations, and talk about them to servicewomen and civilian staff.

Since Girls'Day was launched in 2001, around 1.7 million girls across Germany have taken part in events hosted by different businesses and organisations which offer careers in supposedly “male-dominated” fields. The armed forces are one such area, and since this day of action was first held, Germany’s Bundeswehr has grown into its biggest supporter. The Bundeswehr is providing around 6,000 places across 100 different locations this year, making it once again the biggest host of Girls'Day.

Pictures from the event will be available from 5 p. m. here

Background information of women in the Bundeswehr:

Women in the armed forces are part of normal life these days. They play their part as a matter of course in all areas – as ships’ commanders, section or platoon leaders, technical specialists, fighter pilots and much more. This applies to missions abroad as well, with well over 200 servicewomen currently deployed overseas. They are governed by the same standards as their male colleagues.

The European Court of Justice (EJC) in Luxembourg ruled on 11 January 2000 that women could not be denied access to jobs in the Bundeswehr that involved bearing arms. Before that point, women could only serve in the Bundeswehr’s medical and military music services. Since 1 January 2001, women have fundamentally had the right to volunteer for any category of assignment in the armed forces. They are deployed according to their aptitude, performance and qualifications.

The proportion of women pursuing Bundeswehr careers has risen steadily in all fields in the intervening years. They currently make up approximately 11% of armed forces personnel. Around 6,500 women were serving in the Bundeswehr in 2001; nowadays, there are more than 20,000 servicewomen among a total force of 178,000. They include approximately 2,700 career servicewomen, some 16,100 more on short-service contracts and around 1,600 women doing voluntary national service.

Furthermore, an increasing number of them are in positions of command: there are two women bearing the rank of General, while more than 3,700 others are officers or medical officers and another 1,200‑odd are in officer training. Almost one in four applicants for commissioned service are women. This is the equivalent to the management level in a non-military context. Around 6,000 senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are female, and a further 1,400 women are in training for such positions – the civilian equivalent being senior positions in blue-collar jobs.

The Bundeswehr offers its personnel 63 bachelors and masters degree programmes, around 30 advanced training qualifications and vocational training for some 40 different professions – from chemistry-lab technology to nursing to aeronautic engineering.

On its civilian staff, the Bundeswehr currently employs around 31,000 women, a proportion of around 37%. Some 34% (approx. 1,800) of the staff employed for training purposes (apprentices, trainees and interns) are female. Such training is provided in more than 50 different professions. Over 400 training centres are available for this purpose nationwide, as are 31 workshops tailored to technical jobs.

The Bundeswehr is already an attractive employment prospect, particularly for women. This was confirmed by Schülerbarometer 2016, the latest survey of school pupils conducted by the polling institute trendence (1), in which the Bundeswehr was again voted one of the top five employers.

Nonetheless, the Bundeswehr does need to continue tackling the demographic challenges of the future in competition with other employers. Alongside good and interesting training opportunities, the attractiveness of an employer depends crucially on the many aspects of enabling people to combine work and family life. If the Bundeswehr is to attract the best hands and heads for the demanding jobs it has to do, it needs to create the right incentives. In the Bundeswehr as elsewhere, having a career and having a family are not mutually exclusive.

As a family-friendly employer, the Bundeswehr is currently investing in more than 50 measures as part of its “Bundeswehr in the lead” agenda for “an active and attractive alternative”. They range from increasing salaries and improving career paths to introducing more flexible working hours and childcare options to modernising accommodation.

A new aspect of Girls'Day this year is that the Bundeswehr is also taking part in the concurrent Boys'Day for the first time. This event is intended to introduce boys to fields that are (still) female-dominated. For example, Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg will be offering an insight in the work and responsibilities of its university library and book-binding workshop.

(1) https://www.schuelerbarometer.de/arbeitgeber/ranking.html – The annual “trendence Schülerbarometer” survey collates the opinions of school pupils from across Germany on the subjects of their future careers and their attraction to particularly potential employers.

This is the translation of a press release published on www.bmvg.de

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