“During the visit in Härnosand, the visiting group found, much to its joy, that female recruits can finally be given bras according to the equipment list and exchange them to be laundered,” read an internal memo issued by officials from the military college in Halmstad in western Sweden.
“This must be considered as a milestone in the Swedish Armed Forces’ gender equality efforts.”
The report comes following a visit by officials from the college, which is charged with coordinating basic military training for new recruits to the Swedish military, to a training camp in Härnosand in northern Sweden.
The group travelled to the site to check progress on its implementation of various measures associated with carrying out basic training.
“We’ve had female soldiers for 30 years, but we’ve periodically had problems supplying them with the right equipment,” Hans B. Hansson, head of the military college and one of the officials on the visit referenced in the memo, told The Local.
“As there are relatively few women in the Swedish military, it can be hard to ensure that we everything available and in the right sizes.”
Previously, women who were unable to find the bras they needed among the standard-issue military clothing were made to go and purchase their own, after which they were reimbursed.
But now, the situation has improved.
“Finally, both men and women can go and get what they need from the supply shed,” Hansson said in explaining why the delivery of underwear to new female recruits three decades after women started serving in the military should be considered a milestone.
Ylva Forsberg, chair of the soldiers’ interest organistation Svensk Soldat, also hailed the improved supply of underwear to Sweden’s female soldiers.
“It took too long, but it’s a really good thing that bras and panties are now readily available,” she told The Local.
“It’s an important signal that both men and women are welcomed as equals within the Swedish Armed Forces.”
Part of the reason for the improved supply of bras and other clothing is likely due to recent changes to how the military handles logistics for distributing equipment to its various camps across the country, according to Hansson.
“Now things are as they should be,” he said.
While response to the improved supply of women’s undergarments has been “generally positive”, according to Hansson, he admitted that not everyone is satisfied.
“Some people complain that the bras don’t fit or sit a bit weird,” he said.
“There are many different body shapes to take into account.”