Relatives of female army personnel protested outside the defence ministry on Saturday, demanding an immediate end to gender discrimination after male colleagues were promoted over a decade earlier than female national guard officers.

Later in the day, the defence ministry, which to date had failed to respond to gender discrimination accusations, said that “all necessary steps in consultation with the relevant departments” have been taken to examine all the aspects of the issues raised by female NCOs.

It said that based on amended regulations “almost” 500 female non-commissioned officers were promoted between 2017 and 2021.

According to the protestors, male non-commissioned officers who were hired back in the 1990s were promoted 13 years earlier than the female ones hired at the same time.

Men were promoted despite female NCOs having the same qualifications, duties and seniority, resulting in a huge wage gap between the two sexes.

During the demo, a petition was submitted to a representative of the defence ministry before it was circulated to the media.

The petition, which cited the relevant laws on basic human rights, spoke of the defence minister’s “obligation to retroactively redress the injustice” against female army personnel.

It also called on the president and local authorities to address the “negative consequences” faced by the female officers due to the discrimination.

This was the third protest by non-commissioned officers over sexism in the national guard.

The matter was highlighted in a recent report by the ombudswoman, who confirmed that some 200 female non-commissioned officers (NCOs) hired back in the 1990s were not promoted as fast as their male colleagues.

This is despite the fact that in 2016 the relevant regulations were amended, on paper putting an end to this dual-track treatment.

But until today, the ombudswoman said in her report in December 2021, the military treats female NCOs differently, impacting both their rank as well as their pay grade.