The RCMP is now letting officers wear hijabs as part of their uniform, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed Wednesday.

The move is intended to encourage Muslim women to consider the RCMP as a career option, Scott Bardsley said in an email.

"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a progressive and inclusive police service that values and respects persons of all cultural and religious backgrounds," Bardsley wrote.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson approved the change "recently," according to the statement from Goodale's office.

The police force has allowed male members of Sikh faith to wear the turban in uniform since the early 1990s.

Other police forces around the world and in Canada allow Muslim women to wear a hijab with their uniforms, including the Toronto and Edmonton Police Services, as well and police services in the U.K., Sweden and Norway. Some U.S. states also allow it.

The RCMP has had trouble attracting female recruits amid continuing harassment allegations by female officers. The Mounties want 30 per cent of the force to be women by 2025, according to a 2014 article in the RCMP's in-house magazine. Eighteen per cent of those enrolled in training at the RCMP Depot were minorities in 2014, up from seven per cent in 2004-2005, according to the article.

But the Mounties have faced repeated allegations of sexual harassment and bullying. Hundreds of female RCMP members have joined a class-action suit against the Mounties alleging systematic discrimination.

No current members wear hijab

A spokeswoman for the RCMP said the force has developed a hijab for applicants or serving female members of the Islamic faith to wear, should they wish.

"Offering female Muslim RCMP officers the choice to wear the hijab reflects the diversity of the RCMP's workforce," Julie Gagnon wrote in an email to

The head scarf was officially adopted in Jan. 2016 and went through "rigorous testing to ensure the design meets the highest standards of officer safety," she added.

The RCMP says it currently has no members requesting to wear the hijab on duty.

Despite the lack of demand, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims says the change will make a difference for Muslim women who may see the RCMP as a career option.

"Bringing down this potential barrier will certainly make it easier for women to consider joining the RCMP as a professional choice," Amira Elghawaby said.

The decision to offer the head scarf, Elghawaby said, also underscores the need for the RCMP to ensure they're recruiting from various communities across Canada.

"This sends very strong signal to diverse communities and specifically to women that their choice of dress will not be a barrier."