Madam Chair and honourable members,
I'll be giving my statement in English.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak on the important topic of the employment of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. As background, my experience with changes in the employment of women in the CAF started in 1978. I have been conducting research, contributing to policy development, monitoring evolutions and teaching on gender in the military at the Canadian Forces College since.
I interpret that the current study is informed by the objectives of the original royal commission to ensure the full participation of women in all aspects of Canadian society. In this case, it is to set the conditions to enable women to make an optimum contribution to delivering defence and security for Canadians.
I'll start with changes in the CAF over time to inform the current context. Faced with the six recommendations for the CAF in the 1970 royal commission report, the 1970s and 1980s was a period of denial and resistance by many, but not all, in uniform. A number of men could not envision women as able to perform core operational roles. A narrative was constructed that accentuated gender differences. All men could leap a tall building in a single bound; no women could climb a flight of stairs.
While no longer widely held, the focus on male supremacy still echoes in parts of the CAF. The 1990s and the early 2000s saw a shift to grudging tolerance and eventual acceptance but with women constantly on trial. Poor performance by a man could be ignored or excused while that by a women could be met with dismissal. We knew she couldn't cut it.
With the intensive operations conducted in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere, the evolution since 2005 was seen by many as full acceptance. Women have been there, done that and earned the T-shirt and the medals. This has come, however, with a new narrative that replaced the constructed gender differences with the belief that the CAF is gender neutral. A common phrase is, “I don't see gender. I don't hear accents. I don't see colour. I just see soldiers, and they all compete on a level field”. The CAF is not gender neutral, and the field is not level.
Women have demonstrated very capably that they can perform military roles in ways that earn the respect of their male superiors, peers and subordinates, but most do so by adopting highly masculine behaviours and, for some, masculine world views, attitudes and values. This is no surprise as the military engages in very intentional processes to convert the civilian into the soldier, sailor, aviator, leader, commander. The challenge is that what is produced is highly masculinized. The CAF is just now beginning to ask at what cost.
In what ways are women, men and others prevented from making an optimum contribution when they are socialized into one specific way of thinking and acting?
I'll now turn to Operation Honour and harassment of women with two initial comments. First, I cannot see another organization in Canada or the military internationally doing more than the CAF. The challenge is, it's still not enough. Second, it's complicated. There are a number of reasons why women, some men, LGB individuals and non-binary folk are subject to unwanted and unprofessional behaviours. The efforts you have been briefed on by CAF leaders are all necessary actions, but the CAF has yet to really tackle two key factors.
The first is that the military is a very judgmental profession. Individuals judge each other constantly and for good reason. They want to know that those around them will have their back when the brown stuff hits the rotating object, but this becomes problematic when excuses are made for men who trip in mud puddles but, as you have heard, not for women or other non-conforming people.
Second, as part of this process of constantly judging, the military creates very clear social hierarchies indicating who is the most important and who is the least. CAF is not alone here. The order of seating in committee rooms serves the same purpose. The key issue is that this pecking order is established and policed through the use of social power. Research has clearly demonstrated that many, not all, cases of harassment are about power. Labelling actions as sexual misconduct is misleading.
If I hit you with a shovel, you wouldn't call it gardening.
The challenge for CAF members is to thread the needle where all still have confidence in the capability of their peers—everybody has to measure up—and where those who are given power—some still need power—know how to use it properly, while removing the risk that judgmental assessments and constructed power are used to marginalize women or others who don't fit the hyper-masculine norm.
A number of researchers have suggested that the solution is to amend this norm and allow alternate ways of being seen as an effective military member. This would include shifting from the current focus on normative conformity to practising inclusive leadership.
Finally, I'll return to the comments of General Lawson when Madame Deschamps surprised senior military leaders with her findings. He stated that the CAF had been taking actions and things had been improving since the 1994 Maclean's articles. He was right, but he missed a key point. The expectations of women as to what was and was not acceptable had shifted significantly. We've seen this more broadly in the #MeToo movement. Social expectations will continue to evolve and could result in another sharp break, where tolerated practices suddenly become unacceptable.
This is not just restricted to women. A common phase among young Canadians these days is “check your privilege”. An old phrase among military officers is “RHIP”, which means rank has its privileges. There's a culture clash.
I would conclude that the CAF is going to continue to have to find ways to create the individual and group characteristics needed for operations, while also meeting ongoing evolution in how individuals expect to be treated and how they will expect to be able to contribute to mission success.
I have a short list of recommendations that I will table for the committee's consideration.
Good morning, Madam Chair, members of the committee, and distinguished guests.
Thank you, Alan.
Thank you for inviting me as part of your study on the treatment of women within the Department of National Defence.
I am here on behalf of my organization but also as a member of the steering committee of the Women, Peace and Security Network—Canada.
A few weeks ago I watched a TVO documentary that first aired in September of 2018, on what remains a little-known part of our Canadian history, a campaign waged against the Canadian LGBTQ+ community in an attempt to remove members of this community from public office. Men and women believed to be homosexuals working in the Canadian public service, including the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, were put under surveillance and interrogated. Their privacy was invaded to the highest degree, with their careers ruined and lives destroyed.
Apart from the incredible injustice that was committed to Canadians in Canada, there was something else that I found very powerful in that documentary. All of those affected recounted their time in the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP with much pride, “I was a great soldier” or “I was a great police officer.” All of them had signed up willingly for this type of career, wanting to make a difference, wanting to serve their country. All of them knew the sacrifices it would take, and they were physically and mentally ready. What they weren't ready for and what they hadn't signed up for was the pervasive culture of discrimination and harassment they faced, including bullying and abuse, which ultimately forced them out.
While laws have since changed and important progress has been made, as Alan mentioned, let's be very clear: We're not there yet. Many of your guests in the last few weeks have demonstrated this very clearly, including Sandra Perron, Laura Nash and Julie Lalonde. We are forcing out the very people we say we want, at least on paper.
I'd like to offer today a few tangible steps that I believe are key to addressing the problem.
First, I think we need to rethink the education and the training system overall. One of the objectives of the Canadian Armed Forces diversity strategy is to “Inculcate a Culture of Diversity”, which the strategy says, “is to develop the military's organizational culture to be more inclusive and respectful which will demonstrate to Canadian society that the CAF truly values and embraces diversity.” Cultural change is not going to happen with a one-hour online GBA+ training or a one-hour sexual harassment training. Cultural change will happen by ensuring that the principles of equality, diversity and human rights are at the very core of the education that a soldier receives. That needs to be embedded in everything they do and reinforced at every level. It also needs to be complemented by strict zero tolerance policies for any such behaviour and a process for complaints that are properly investigated.
My second point is that I believe we need an honest conversation on the role of the military in the 21st century starting within the CAF. As mentioned, there has been important progress made within DND and the CAF regarding the treatment of women; however, we know that women and men experience their military careers very differently, as we've heard in the past few weeks. That being the case, there is a very real need to have an honest and frank conversation about what it's like to be in the military from these diverse perspectives. We need to hear these very voices, and then we need to analyze the findings and be ready to meaningfully address them. It's about committing to examine the very structures we bring women and other diverse groups into. It's about changing the way that it has always been done.
This takes effective leadership, which is my third point. Effective leadership is one that drives change from within by empowering others to believe in that change.
This is where I think we've been failing. Transformational change towards gender equality and inclusivity requires everyone in the organization to believe in that change from top officials to students at RMC to cadets. This is far from being easy, but in hierarchical institutions bold statements followed by bold actions should go a long way, and they can't just be one person, but many across the organization who become champions and stand up and challenge the “well, we've always done it this way” and are empowered to do so.
To conclude, I truly believe there is a huge opportunity for the Canadian Forces to change its culture and truly be an inclusive place for everyone.
I fully agree, and yes, there are aspects of the culture that I would suggest need to change.
As I tried to indicate in my comments, the challenge is that the military goes out of its way to create the soldier. With everybody who joins the military, there are three key things that everybody learns. The first is normative conformity; when in doubt do what everybody else is doing. Number two is obedience to authority; do what the boss tells you. Number three is group loyalty—fit into groups. That puts huge pressure on people to fit in and to conform.
There are many individuals—this is part of what I do with the groups coming through Canadian Forces College— who fit that.... When they joined the military, they didn't have to change who they were very much. It was them. There are others who don't.
The military is continuing to try to find ways to help them become like everybody else, rather than changing the culture to say, “You can still be who you are. You can be a military member in a different way than what we're currently doing.”
That, to me, is the central challenge, and I'm not sure that anybody has sorted that out yet.
I'll start with a couple of recommendations.
One of the key things in Operation Honour is the duty to report. The challenge with duty to report is that it makes incidents very formal right away. There are individuals who have been on the receiving end of stupid behaviour who don't want it formally reported.
My recommendation is to change that to a “duty to respond”. If somebody were asked, “You were there. You witnessed. You saw something going on that was unprofessional. How did you respond?” It may simply be support. It may be talking with them. That would be one of the issues that I would suggest.
I would also suggest that the military take a very long, hard look at the social events that emphasize alcohol consumption. We know that's part of it. It contributes to it.
I would suggest that it would be beneficial to have professional counselling available to individuals when they're on the receiving end, particularly of sexualized military trauma.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much for being here. We truly appreciate the advice and the insight that you bring.
Professor, I would particularly like to thank you for your observation regarding the hierarchy in a committee and how power is used.
I'm sure most of us have been to a mess, and my God, you have to know the protocol or you're in trouble. You may not get dinner if you don't understand the hierarchy there.
I was very interested in the comment in regard to education. You mentioned the RMC, and it reminded me of a situation in the town where I come from with cadets. For whatever reason, because of friendship, because somebody had access to a vehicle, a child predator was allowed in to be an instructor. The reservist who tried to bring attention to that went right up the chain of command. He was drummed out and the predator remained. It seems to me that this education you spoke of does indeed need to start very early. I wondered if you would comment on that.
I'll offer a couple of comments, one particular to the level of government. One depends very much on the image of the military and the ways in which the Canadian Armed Forces are supposed to contribute to defence and security. We had a period of time when it was very clear the military was engaged in major combat missions. There were types of advertising that went on at that time, which very clearly attracted certain Canadians to want to join the military, and they dissuaded others, particularly women and members of several of the minority communities.
As Kristine has mentioned, if the Canadian Armed Forces is engaged in providing positive contributions in the world, trying to set the conditions for peace and security, there are likely going to be a lot more women who are going to be interested in joining. So that's one from a government level.
The second one from a government level is that the Employment Equity Act does allow for and hints, encourages, the use of special measures, again, as we know, to address the historical marginalization of the four designated groups. Both the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP have been very reluctant to use special measures. Both tend to cling to the merit principle, and from there my internal recommendation is the military continues to rank order. If they have a thousand people who want to join to go to the Royal Military College, they rank order them from number one to a thousand. They actually aren't rank-ordering them from one to a thousand. The measures aren't that precise. They would be better off to put them into groupings of outstanding, acceptable and weak, and if you did broad groupings of equally qualified individuals, you could then have the principle of selecting first amongst equals. So you could select individuals based on demographic identity.
That goes not only to joining. That goes to promotions. That goes into appointing people into command appointments. There's a host of things right now where women, in particular, can commonly be the next on the list. They just didn't quite compete enough to be the top on the list, and challenging this assumption that it's a gender-neutral, level playing field, I think the principle of first amongst equals would help overcome that. There are actions that can be taken.
Welcome back to the 146th meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
For the second hour, I am pleased to welcome Brigadier-General Virginia Tattersall, deputy commander, military personnel generation; Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon, defence champion for women, peace and security; Lisa Vandehei, director of gender, diversity and inclusion; and Sean Cantelon, who is the chief executive officer of the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.
I'm going to turn the floor over to Brigadier-General Virginia Tattersal.
You have seven minutes to open.
Madam Chair and committee members, good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today about the treatment of women in the Department of National Defence, something I have both personal and professional experience with, having been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for most of my life.
I am Brigadier-General Virginia Tattersall, and until last week, I was the commander of the military personnel generation group. This group, which we in the military like to call MILPERSGEN, is responsible for, among other things, recruiting, training and educating the future of the Canadian Armed Forces. I have some expertise in this area, and I will be happy to answer specific questions about the recruitment of women.
Diversity—and this includes representation of women—is of primary importance to the Canadian Armed Forces. This is not just so that the organization reflects our society—although that is important—but it is also because diversity ensures we are drawing from the entirety of the Canadian talent pool and the richness of thought, capabilities and skills that comes along with it.
Women have served in Canada's military for over a century. It has not always been an easy road, but we, as an institution, continue to improve. As we identify issues, we endeavour to tackle them and find solutions, although perhaps not as expediently as some would like.
Today women and men may serve in any occupation they choose so long as they meet the enrolment criteria, and I'm proud to say we were one of the first military forces in the world to allow women to serve in all occupations.
Why do women join the military? For the same reasons as men—the chance to serve their country; to have a respected, challenging and rewarding profession with good pay and benefits; and friendships that last a lifetime.
As you are aware, we have an institutional goal to have women make up at least 25.1% of the Canadian Armed Forces by 2026. It is an ambitious target, and we are making progress. As of January 2019 there were 1,316 more women in the Canadian Armed Forces compared with 2015.
The CAF recruiting strategy for women focuses on raising awareness of career opportunities. This is done through engagement in outreach, advertising, job postings, media partnerships, social media and individual recruiter efforts. National Defence has undertaken of late a number of specific initiatives to increase representation even further, including the Women in Force program—a trial at an experience of what it's like to serve in the military—and our efforts to re-enrol women who have previously released.
Our military colleges are playing a role in recruitment by giving priority to female applicants who meet enrolment standards, with women now making up 19.7% of the officer cadet population this past academic year. Most importantly, we continue through Operation Honour to reinforce respect and inclusivity, and combat negative culture that has subjected women and men to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Currently, women are well represented in eight primary occupations, and we continue to work to increase representation across all occupations in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Madam Chair and members of the committee, the Canadian Armed Forces is an organization that recognizes excellence and welcomes all who want to pursue that as their personal goal, and we will continue to recruit and encourage more women to join the force. I am but one example of what a women can accomplish by serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. I would tell you that my own career has been rich with opportunities and experiences. Were I given the chance to do it again, I would not hesitate to do so.
Thank you for your attention. I'm pleased to answer any questions you may have of me.
Madam Chair and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to appear alongside my colleagues today, and thank you for your interest in this important topic.
It has been more than 30 years since I began my military life as a cadet at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean. Since then, as an officer and a helicopter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, I have seen and experienced many of the unique challenges faced by women in the Canadian Armed Forces that you are hearing about in this study.
Nevertheless, I believe in the importance of the CAF and its mission, as well as its ability to learn and adapt as an institution. My career has provided me with the opportunities and experience that I could not have found anywhere else, and I still love coming to work every day. I joined the military to get a degree, and then I was going to quit and join the civilian forces. I had so much fun that I just forgot to quit, and I'm still here 32 years later.
In my current role as defence champion for women, peace and security, my interest is focused first and foremost on making us stronger and more effective in military operation. Beyond being a place of work for thousands of Canadians, DND and the CAF are important tools in Canada's effort to bring security, stability and humanitarian relief to fragile and conflict-affected places around the world.
To do this effectively in a modern operational context, the CAF must be able to understand how conflict and other crises affect populations of women, men, girls and boys differently, as well as how gender-related challenges can be exacerbated by, and even contribute to, security and humanitarian problems.
The 2017 national action plan on women, peace and security recognizes this requirement and calls for a coordinated approach across all Canadian efforts—both military and civilian—to improve security, promote gender equality and build sustainable peace.
As we finalize the progress report for fiscal year 2018-19, I am pleased with our degree of effort and success related to the following four pillars: governance and accountability, training and education, recruitment and retention, and integration into operations.
Since I am the deputy chief of operations at the Canadian Joint Operations Command and in my role as champion for women, peace and security, integration into operations is indeed my main focus area.
Of course, this operationally focused lens of women, peace and security is intrinsically linked to the more institutionally focused issues being studied by this committee, since to succeed in operations we must be supported by a strong institution and the right mix of people.
To support this target, the CAF must be able to engage with and understand all segments of a population, including those who may have difficulty interacting with a predominantly male military force.
This is why attracting, training and retaining adequate numbers of female CAF members in key roles and at all rank levels is so important. Beyond increasing the gender equality of our own workforce, which is a really worthy and important goal in itself, it also serves to make the CAF a better-prepared, more adaptable and more effective military force.
I look forward to this morning's discussion and would be happy to answer any questions about the importance of gender and gender perspectives in CAF operations.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee.
The Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services works on behalf of the chief of the defence staff and under the authority of the Minister of National Defence. We provide morale and wellness programs and services that support the physical, mental and social well-being, and the financial well-being of the Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and their families.
As chief executive officer of the Canadian Forces welfare and morale services, my job is to ensure that our services and programs promote the operational readiness and effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces and contribute to the resiliency and self-sufficiency of Canadian Forces members and their families. We do this in a way that combines public and non-public funds in a social enterprise model.
Our activities cover a wide range of services, including retail sales, financial and insurance services, fitness and sports, recreation and family support. We also manage the Canadian Armed Forces' official charity, Support Our Troops.
The Canadian Forces morale and welfare services support prevention and response to gender-based violence in the Canadian Forces community in several ways.
First, as a funded partner of the federal strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence, military family services is implementing teams, at bases and wings across Canada, to provide education and to support those affected by violence. These teams are made up of both military and civilian specialists to provide a wide range of support services and programs, in a multidisciplined, holistic and collaborative way. This includes violence prevention, education and awareness tools, as well as survivor and perpetrator support services.
These teams include staff from the local military family resource centres, such as social workers, family liaison officers; Canadian Armed Forces health services staff, such as social workers, mental health nurses; the Military Police, which may include victim services; chaplains; and personnel support program health promotions. The teams also collaborate with professional health and social service workers from the civilian community to share expertise and increase awareness of community programs and services.
The importance of this initiative is also highlighted as initiative 22 in Canada's defence policy, “Strong Secure Engaged”. As part of this initiative, military family services has administered training on a broad range of gender-based violence topics to social workers who work directly with families and members. In fiscal year 2018-19, military family services provided $380,000 to local Canadian Armed Forces communities to implement activities, workshops and training targeting gender-based violence. Military family services operates a 24-7 family information line, with trained bilingual counsellors, to help support members and families who have been affected by violence. It offers the option of virtual short-term counselling sessions.
Under our personnel support division of the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, our health promotions team delivers the Respect in the CAF program. This is delivered directly to bases and wings across Canada. The aim of this program is to promote respect through awareness and understanding, empower CAF members to take a stand against sexual misconduct and educate CAF members on victim support. This program is executed in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces strategic response team on sexual misconduct.
Another support option we offer for members and their families is the support our troops fund, operated by our non-public funds. This can offer financial assistance, in the form of emergency grants. Individuals who have been affected by violence can access funding for such things as emergency housing, transportation and essentials, such as food and gas.
The Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services will continue to work with all defence and community stakeholders to ensure that CAF members and their families affected by violence are supported. Our organization will continue to focus on education and prevention, while ensuring a variety of intervention services exists, so that those affected can determine how and where they will access support.
That concludes my comments.
Honourable members and Chairperson, thank you so much for having us here today. I'm pleased to be included in the meeting this morning.
My name is Lisa Vandehei. My role within the defence team is to provide expertise that assists in the implementation of gender-based analysis plus, GBA+. All of us here today work collaboratively towards a more diverse and inclusive defence environment.
Canada's defence policy makes a commitment to integrate GBA+ in all defence activities across the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence. The defence team is committed to institutionalizing the use of GBA+ so that we can make effective, equitable and evidence-based decisions. We're working to develop sustainable practices and systems that support our leadership to hold all accountable in conducting a GBA+ analysis, and to developing policies and programs that are informed by the findings of these analyses.
We are working to apply GBA+ in everything we do, from the things we buy, the buildings we build or maintain, our science and technology, our policies, practices, programs and projects. GBA+ is an analytical process to improve how things work for everyone in the defence team, and how the defence team affects others as well. This includes supporting culture change and creating a welcoming, inclusive workplace designed for the people we want to attract and retain.
We've heard already that SSE recognizes that diversity and inclusion are indispensable capabilities that enable the defence team's ability to innovate, work locally and globally and ultimately successfully fulfill its mandate, but how exactly does it do that?
We know that diversity fosters innovation and creativity through a greater variety of problem-solving approaches, perspectives and ideas. People being able to bring their lived experiences to the table matters when you're trying to solve complex problems. A diversity of informed views enables objections and alternatives to be explored more efficiently and solutions to emerge more readily and be adopted with greater confidence. A defence team that reflects the Canadian population in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and all aspects of each of our lived experiences is better positioned to understand its changing security needs and develop winning solutions.
I'd like to share three key messages with the panel and chair today.
We've made progress and we're having a positive impact by conducting GBA+ analyses. Thus far, we've conducted GBA+ analyses or scans on approximately $40 billion in projects, programs and policies. This has led to some tangible changes and will lead to more.
For example, the MINDS program, which provides opportunities for collaboration between academia, the defence team and the defence and security expert community, now has GBA+ as a 20% rated criteria for funding. In another example, the Canadian Armed Forces provides an allotment of $160 per year towards the purchase of bras to help ensure comfort and safety at work. This allotment doubles during an overseas deployment. For the first time, this policy includes maternity and nursing bras and chest binders.
Our second message is that the institutionalization of GBA+ is a complex process. It's much more than raising awareness about inequality and issues of diversity and inclusion. It requires medium- and long-term planning to build a capability: to have skills, knowledge, leadership and access to relevant disaggregated data and research. We have a strong start. We have a full leadership support and have been allocated resources for this work.
Lastly, changing an organization's culture is one of the most difficult of leadership challenges. An organization's culture, we know, comprises interlocking sets of goals, roles, responsibilities, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. GBA+ is a tool by which we can challenge all of these things and change the way we work. This is what we're doing.
Perhaps I'll start by first explaining two pieces that I can speak to.
From a recruiting perspective, part of the pre-enrolment process includes actually educating those who are about to take the oath on our values, and certainly we have a number of ideas on how we can further expand that to reinforce how important those values are. When they arrive at our leadership and recruit school in Saint-Jean, they spend a total of 60 periods—or 40 hours out of the 10-week program—engaged in briefings, lectures and command engagement, all on the subject of Operation Honour, ethics and Canadian Armed Forces values, which is a fairly significant investment.
For structured training, that doesn't begin to identify that ongoing engagement and mentoring throughout their time at the recruit school by the staff, through their example, to reinforce to them the culture within the Canadian Armed Forces, recognizing, though, that the recruit school piece is your assimilation into the Canadian Armed Forces. We're taking you from being a civilian and getting you closer to being a trained member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
I would comment by using some practical examples at our recruit school.
One of the obstacles that the recruits go through involves essentially a set of monkey bars that they have to go hand over hand across. We recognized that the height was causing a lot of injuries, particularly for women with pelvic injuries if they fall. Normally women tend to be on the shorter side. They would fall a greater distance, and they would injure themselves, so we have changed the height of those bars.
Similarly, we looked at the training we conduct for their final leadership practicum in the field. They used to do a 13-kilometre march with a rucksack. We've now changed that because, again, we recognized that we were seeing a lot of injuries, particularly among women, which then forces them in a lot of cases to have to take a time out to heal and then come back to the training.
We've changed that training perspective. Now they do a 7-kilometre march and shoot activity. It seems small, but that's a practical example of how we're changing our thinking when we look at aspects of our training to recognize that it's not just the same old paradigm of 50 years ago.
The gender advisers are now in all of our major organizations: air force, navy and military personnel. Inside the institution, we have gender advisers who report to the commander directly on gender issues, and gender is more than male and female; it's GBA+, the full spectrum of age, religion, etc. The gender adviser is much more diversified.
We also have a structure of gender advisers in operation. The big Operation Impact, the eFP Battle Group, Operation Unifier, in Mali, NMI have dedicated gender advisers who are there working for the commander to bring that gender perspective for the success of operations. They're deployed.
There's also, on the other deployments, a gender focal point, GFP. It's like a gender adviser. They are dual-hatted. It's not their sole responsibility, but they are responsible to the commander to bring that gender perspective.
We institutionalized the gender adviser role with the general adviser and the GFP.
Over the last number of years, there have been a variety of articles that have come forward as well as a survey that was done by StatsCan with regard to sexual assault within the military. Of course, most recently there was the Auditor General's report that came out with regard to Operation Honour. Before that in 2016, there was another report that came forward by the Auditor General with regard to the participation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Ms. Tattersal, when you gave your opening remarks, you mentioned that the Canadian Armed Forces had a goal of achieving a 25% composition of women by 2026, and you called this a lofty goal or an ambitious target.
You state here that we're making progress. As of January 2019 there were 1,316 more women in the Canadian Armed Forces as compared to 2015. The Auditor General, in the report of 2016, said the success of recruiting women was negligible, that there weren't necessarily the programs or the commitment to recruiting women that were expected.
Do you want to comment on that or offer your reflections?
Certainly. It's 2019, and since assuming command in 2017, we have focused a lot of effort on recruiting women. As I mentioned, we trialled Women in Force, because we understand that women, and most millennials—because we got comments “Why did you do this just for women, why not for men?”—want to be able to kick the tires, take it around the block and get a sense of what it is.
We conducted a tiger team that essentially reviewed all of the practices that we were doing in recruiting with assistance from the PCO hub to look at the language we were using in our ads. Was it too male-specific? Could we change the wording?
We've done a lot of work in the social media sphere and with our ads to present women within the context of the Canadian Armed Forces, sometimes to our detriment, because one of the things that women do not want is to actually be singled out. It actually works against us where they see just commercial after commercial and all you see is a group of women, because it gives them the sense that they're nothing more than just a figure, they're not actually part of the forces.
We are certainly making progress, but we face the same challenge that we do for recruiting any of the other EE groups within Canada or even Canadian citizens in general. That is the fact that most Canadians, while they know we have a military, really don't know what the military does. They think we're primarily focused on peacekeeping and humanitarian, and they certainly aren't aware of the opportunities available.
If the broader Canadian public doesn't have that awareness, then you can certainly assume that neither do young women have that awareness of what it is we do. We get out into the social media sphere and do recruiter for a day activities, where we will have a young woman who's serving answer questions. We have featured videos, where we provide an opportunity to see what our training is like for both men and women.
It's slow progress, because we're battling that overall general lack of awareness. We are making inroads, we continue to increase the number of women. We have a number of other initiatives that I could describe. It's a long list that we're building. It is slowly making progress, but the biggest challenge is to increase awareness among all Canadians that the Canadian Armed Forces is not just the infanteer you see in Saving Private Ryan. It's everything from padres to electricians to aircraft pilots to doctors to logisticians.
It was a letter-writing campaign where we went out to women who had released within a five-year time frame. The five-year time frame was so that we don't need to repeat any of the foundational training because they would have had skill fade.
The response was actually very low. We should not have been surprised because the primary reasons that women will release.... Certainly there are those who will release because they have had a terrible experience, but a lot of women will release because they have family pressures for which they are making a life decision that they cannot continue in the military. We would have been naive to expect that within five years some of those family situations would change, particularly if it had to do with raising children.
Similarly, a lot of women will release at certain points because of medical injuries. Again, if they are released for a medical injury, the likelihood is that they may not have recovered or healed from that particular injury within five years.
The reasons—and I have just given you three—why they got out hadn't changed, ergo they weren't interested in coming back into the Canadian Armed Forces.
I'm not sure who to ask this to, so I'll let you decide which person is the best to answer.
Can you comment on not only procedure but also practices that are being put in place in order to best serve women when they face sexual assault or misconduct?
The reason I ask this question is that we've heard from many witnesses who say it's not a matter of having more procedure, more paperwork, more platitudes or more good intention; it's simply a matter of practice. They would say that many of the procedures are already in place; many of the expectations have already been stated.
Ms. Tattersal, you mentioned that 40 hours out of that initial week, I believe you said—
The challenge with changing culture within the Canadian Armed Forces is the same challenge that we face within Canadian society, because we are a mirror of Canadian society. As I explained, because I usually do this as a little bit of a soapbox rant, when I watched TV growing up, it was The Waltons
and The Beachcombers
. You can judge me by how old I am, but they carried with them certain values they expressed in how you related and how you conducted yourself.
Nowadays, if you turn on TV on Sunday night, you're going to be watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which involves a very different expectation as to how one conducts oneself, what is acceptable, and what is not. Anyone we enrol is bringing with them what they have learned from their parents, from their families, and from society writ large into the Canadian Armed Forces. So as we work to instill in them—and that's the value of our recruit training—the values of the Canadian Armed Forces to reinforce that through our processes, our policies, and our training, at the same time, we are trying to change that still prevalent culture, because when they go home at night, they're still faced with that. That is why you will hear us say that culture takes a while, but it's culture in the broader Canadian public as well.