Funding Commitment to Women and Gender-Diverse Physical Wellness and Fitness
August 22, 2022 - Defence Stories
Female CAF member smiling while holding her daughter.
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services’ (CFMWS) Personnel Support Programs (PSP) recently received $3.7 million in recurring funding to develop a Women’s Physical Wellness and Fitness Program. This is part of funding announced in the 2022 Federal Budget and part of a larger envelope meant to increase the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) capability in being more responsive to women and gender-diverse military personnel.
“The military leadership engagement on this file and subsequent financial support secured is a testament to the Canadian Armed Forces’ commitment to women’s physical wellness and fitness. We [CFMWS’ PSP] are now resourced to work together with our DND/CAF partners to better support women and gender diverse military personnel throughout their career with a view to increasing representation of women in the CAF,” says Bruce Ploughman, Senior Vice-President PSP.
When it comes to physical wellness and fitness, women in the CAF can have unique needs throughout their career journey, which require specific attention. This is especially important given that from 2014-2017, women had a higher percentage of medical releases than men did (43% versus 39%) and at earlier points in their careers (14 years versus 17 years).
The new program, now in development, will provide relevant, targeted and evidence-based physical wellness and fitness support to address gender-specific requirements throughout phases of a women’s career. The new program will focus on achieving four key program outcomes:
- prepare women physically for occupational and operational training (e.g. Basic Military Qualifications)
- reduce susceptibility to musculoskeletal injury (MSKI)
- accommodate women during career interruptions (e.g. pregnancy)
- maintain physical function through aging (e.g. osteoporosis) and gender-specific development stages (e.g. menopause).
The PSP team’s priority from the outset will be to focus on pre-natal/post-partum, a program area long highlighted as a gap by both personnel and leadership. The intent is also to augment and/or further prioritize efforts in existing program areas like fitness, reconditioning, health promotion, research and sports to ensure that the physical, mental and social components are well integrated into these areas.
For now, the PSP team is hard at work developing its Action Plan, acquiring a new physical performance platform and recruiting staff to deliver this augmented capability.
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