UK Minister for Defence Procurement Anne-Marie Trevelyan today launched the Women in Defence Charter at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London.

Following the announcement, a number of organisations signed the charter, a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence, Women in Defence UK, ADS, Defence Growth Partnership and defence industry companies. Signatories commit to supporting diversity and inclusion and providing opportunities for women to succeed at all levels with the aim of improving gender balance.

The charter specifically commits organisations to supporting the progression of women to senior roles in the defence sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level. It recognises the diversity of the sector and that organisations will have different starting points and should set their own targets accordingly. It requires organisations to publicly report on progress to deliver against any internal targets to support the transparency and accountability needed to drive change. And it aims to enable women to thrive, enhancing the individual and collective impact of women across defence and in doing so, improving the overall output of defence.

Announcing the charter, Trevelyan said: “It is the greatest pleasure to be to be kicking off this fantastic new charter and signing the MOD and all the constituent parts that we work on in defence up for this charter too.

“Perhaps defence has been an all-male preserve, possibly by accident and strength requirements, for a very long time. But that is longer required or indeed the right way to do thing; The other 50% of the population brings a different perspective, great skills, and defence industries are missing out by not making sure that they have more of us working.

“If I can make it from zero to hero as a defence minister in four years, any woman can take on the challenge of getting into grips with some of the fascinating parts of defence, and being part of this extraordinary family whose job is not only to build very terrifying equipment that does really dangerous things, but they are fundamentally designed to protect our values and our people. So that if we get into a fight, and our defence is credible, those who wish us harm will not do so.

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“That is an instinctive female trait; we will protect our children. That, for me, is what defence is, as much about as delivering the firepower when you need to. So this charter, the opportunity to encourage women from young girls up was to think about defence, that broad family of industry of serving of so many skills is across the whole breadth of the defence family. We want more of our amazing women to come in and work alongside all of us to do that.”

Women in Defence UK founder Angela Owen added: “It’s absolutely wonderful to see the Ministry of Defence, the armed forces and so many major defence companies signing up for the Women in Defence charter today. We can work together and this will really make a difference.”

Signatories to the charter include ADS, Airbus, Atkins, Atlas Elektronik UK, Babcock, BAE Systems, BMT, Boeing Defence UK, General Dynamics, GKN Aerospace, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin UK, MBDA UK, the Ministry of Defence, Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, Raytheon UK, Rolls-Royce, Saab UK, Safran, Serco and Thales UK.