Maternity uniform soon here

The gender equal materiel supply project is beginning to take shape in terms of action plans and concrete measures.

For women in particular, it can be difficult to find well-fitting uniforms and equipment. Photo: Jesper Moldvik/Swedish Armed Forces

Project manager Per Öster says that the project group has come up with some 40 activities to be conducted over a five-year period.

“We started by trying to find the reason behind the problems by examining the complaints regarding the materiel supply systems. We gathered over 4 000 complaints concerning poor fit, function and lack of quality.”

Most of the complaints concerned boots, but also underwear, bulletproof vests, helmets, gloves and sportswear were mentioned. The complaints regarding boots were gender neutral. As for many of the remaining systems, however, it was obviously more difficult to achieve well-fitting equipment for women.

Coming measures

A reference group of participants from all service branches and with a large majority of women was put together in order to make sure that the project proceeded, focusing on the right things. As a result, a number of action areas were found.

“One area is body measurements; we haven’t done anything in this field since the early ‘90s and today young people do not look the way they did back then. In the future, we may be able to 3D scan the recruits’ measurements and have the right equipment all set for them when they are called in”, Per Öster says.

Accessibility is another action area.

“A case in point is that many women wanted small-size gloves, but were told that there weren’t any at the depot. When we checked, there were thousands of gloves, but they hadn’t been distributed to the depots. This is all about instruction and understanding the ordering system.

Concrete measures

Another area is what the project group refers to as the “journey of change”, i.e. the fact that the body changes with time.

“If a recruit has exercised for six months, his or her body does not look the same as on the first day of service. Nor does an officer who has served for many years in the Armed Forces necessarily look the way he or she did when collecting the uniform, Per Öster says.

The time when the body changes the most is obviously during pregnancy. Therefore, the Armed Forces will place an order with the Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding a maternity collection.

Per Öster concludes that the project is all about promoting the soldiers’ combat value.