A new initiative is launched to encourage more women to join the Irish Defence Forces.

Women were given the opportunity to join the Irish Defence Forces in 1980. However in 2006 out of 10,500 permanent Irish Defence Forces personnel, there are only 527 women. This is the equivalent of one in 20.

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea is introducing a new initiative to encourage more women to enlist. These measures include lowering the height requirement.

Irish Countrywomen's Association president Carmel Dawson says she has seen many suitable women in the Reserve Defences Forces prevented from going any further because they did not meet the required height.

And if that's their chosen career, why should they not get an opportunity?

Sexism and bullying became significant problems for the army, but Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan is confident appropriate protective measures are now in place.

In 2005 2,200 army personnel were posted overseas. Among them was Cork native Lieutenant Georgina James of Cathal Brugha Barracks. She has recently returned from a tour of duty in Liberia, West Africa.

I’ve led troops over the hills with a pack on my back, the same as any man in my equivalent job and rank.

Defence chiefs are hoping this latest set of measures will lead to the Irish Defence Forces being filled with more women recruits.

An RTÉ News report was broadcast on 2 July 2006. The reporter is Jonathan Clynch.