By Sarah Atherton

MP for Wrexham

Last week marked a year since the Defence Select Committee’s report: ‘Protecting those who protect us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life’, launched. What a year it has been.

As a member of the Defence Select Committee, I led an inquiry that examined the experience of women in our Armed Forces and Veterans. After 18 months, 4200 pieces of evidence, and testimonials from 10% of the women serving in our military right now, we produced a 100-page report which outlined the problems women face in the military. We heard accounts of kit which doesn’t fit the female form properly thus compromising personal safety and operational effectiveness; helmets made for men which sit too low, and body armour that rides up when women are crouched in a shooting position. We also heard accounts of bullying, intimidation, sexual abuse, and even rape. Collecting this type of evidence - first-hand accounts from serving women - had never been allowed before, but the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace gave us special permission to do so. As such, military women were given a platform to have their voices heard.

Nearly a year after the report was published, I have continued to work closely with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Veterans’ charities, such as Forward Assist and Salute Her UK, the first female-only Veterans Charity for which I am a Patron, to ensure that positive changes continue to be made.

In May, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with and host many of the women who gave anonymous evidence to my inquiry, in Parliament for the official launch of Salute Her UK. In June, I raised inequalities for women in the military in the Chamber. I was pleased to receive assurances from the Veterans Minister, Leo Docherty that the MoD is still planning to host an international Five-Eyes Conference this year to look at best practice amongst our allies for making the Armed Forces a better place for women to serve.

Whilst more is to be done, I am pleased to say that – a year on – the MoD has taken on many of these recommendations and is committed to tackling unacceptable behaviours and improving the experience for women in the Armed Forces. I am confident that the MoD is committed to making the UK the best place for a woman to serve, and the best place to be a veteran.

If you would like to find out more information about MoD latest policies to tackle poor behaviours in the Armed Forces:

To see the timeline of what has happened since the report was launched, follow this link:

Sub-Committee: Women in the Armed Forces, from recruitment to civilian life | Sarah Atherton MP.

However, the UK Government’s commitment to women, their health, and their safety are not confined to the military ranks. On 20 July, the UK Government published the first Women’s Health Strategy for England to tackle the gender health gap. Compulsory women’s health training for doctors is set to be introduced. This means that access to contraception, HRT, IVF, and maternity support will also be improved. This strategy is an unprecedented opportunity to reset the dial on women’s health after decades of NHS services failing women.

As healthcare is devolved to the Welsh Government, this strategy will not reach women and girls in Wales. Recent data shows that increasing numbers of Welsh women trying to become mothers are being forced to travel to England for IVF. On top of this, to cope with the life-changing symptoms of menopause, Welsh women are having to ration their supplies of HRT due to shortages. It is time for the Welsh Government to open its eyes and follow suit, not only for women but for all Welsh people who do not have timely access to health services.

Due to inaction by the Welsh Government, the health campaign continues as Wrexham deserves excellent healthcare. If you have not done so already, please visit my website and sign my campaign:

As always, if you are resident in Wrexham and need my assistance with any local or national issue, please contact me by emailing