Currently, all soldiers in Switzerland are provided with the same standard issue military clothing – which means men’s underwear for all, regardless of gender.
Defense Minister Viola Amherd, long an advocate of boosting the presence of women in the Swiss army, has welcomed the change.
Marianne Binder, a member of Switzerland’s National Council who has been pushing for the change, said the change will make the army more attractive to women.
“The clothing is designed for men, but if the army is really to become more feminine, appropriate measures are needed,” she said.
She said a test phase will begin in April.
While underwear may only be one of many factors, female representation in the Swiss military lags behind other European countries.
Only one percent of the military in Switzerland is made up of women, compared to 18 percent in Sweden, 15 percent in France and 12 percent in Germany and Norway.
Armasuisse spokesman Kaj-Gunnar Sievert, told Swiss news outlet Watson that “the two specific functional underwear for women – short underwear (summer) and long underwear (winter) – will be tested in April.”
Sievert said the current Swiss army uniform rules have been in place since the 1980s.
“The old generation of uniforms was not geared enough to the specific needs of women,” said Sievert.
“Against this background, the procurement of the latest equipment is just as important for women as it is for men.”
Results of the test phase will become available in May.