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Norway extends military conscription to women

OSLO (AFP): Norway on Tuesday voted to extend military service to women, saying the step was meant to expand the talent pool for its armed forces.

"We wish to extend military service to all in order to attract the most motivated and competent (recruits)," Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Soereide told news channel TV2 after parliament adopted amendments to two laws paving the way for the change.

Most European countries have abolished conscription in favour of a professional army, but Norway has instead said it wants to ensure its military is more competent and diverse by making it "gender neutral".

The new policy will come into effect in 2016, bringing the NATO country, which operates a weak form of mandatory military service, more in line with Israel than other European nations.

But the change, first proposed by the previous centre-left government, is unlikely to affect more than a small fraction of young Norwegians.

Some 8,000 people - including some 1,000 women, all volunteers - are currently called up for military service each year out of a potential 60,000.

Norway had an official target of reaching 20 per cent women in the army by 2020 under the previous administration but the right-wing government, which took power last year, has not committed to gender targets.


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