Number of women recruits in SAF doubled in 2014

Female recruits from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) undergoing training.
Female recruits from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) undergoing training.PHOTO: PIONEERNS

SINGAPORE - Twice as many women were recruited by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 2014 compared with the previous three years, according to the Ministry of Defence.

A total of 140 women signed on as regulars, the highest yet in recent years. From 2010 to 2013, the average was 70 each year.

There are some 1,500 uniformed women in the army, navy and air force and the SAF has said that it hopes to increase this number by 500 in 2018.

Eventually, the SAF hopes to double the figure.

To reach these goals, the army, navy and air force started recruitment drives targeting women around three years ago.

Women make up 33 per cent of the Israel Defence Forces and 15 per cent of the United States military, according to reports. From this year, 100 per cent of vocations in the US military are available to women.

About 7 per cent of SAF regular forces are women.

The army recruited its first women combatants in 1986 and in 2015, Colonel Gan Siow Huang became the first female general in the SAF. She assumed the rank of brigadier-general in July.

Assuming there are no changes in demographic trends from the United Nations, the male population aged 15 to 24 in Singapore is expected to drop by around 35 per cent between 2015 and 2040. If this decline continues, in 50 years, the same cohort of NS-aged men could shrink to less than half its size today.

Such trends have led to calls for women to consider joining the workforce, including the military.