Freedomroo – Norway first Nato country to bring in compulsory conscription for women and soldiers

Norway has become the first Nato member to have bring in conscription for women. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Norway has become the first Nato member to bring in conscription for women.

Both men and women will have to serve in the Norwegian military, and they will be expected to share mixed dorms.

Most will sign up when they are aged 19, with a third of this summer’s draft women.

Norway has become the first Nato member to have bring in conscription for women. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Both men and women will have to serve in the Norwegian military, and they will be expected to share mixed dorms. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Both men and women will have to serve in the Norwegian military, and they will be expected to share mixed dorms. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Most will sign up when they are aged 19, with a third of this summer's draft women. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Most will sign up when they are aged 19, with a third of this summer’s draft women. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

At the Setermoen army base just above the Arctic Circle, new recruits in an armoured battalion are learning to handle assault rifles for use on combat missions. 

‘It gives me a bigger recruitment pool to choose from,’ the battalion’s chief, Lieutenant Colonel Pal Berglund, said of the new gender equal draft.

‘I’m still looking for the same competence I always have. And for me it’s obvious that this competence is also present within a large part of the female population of Norway.’

Norwegian women have been able to volunteer for military service for almost 40 years now, helping to gradually feminise the armed forces. 

The military welcomed its first female helicopter pilot, female jet fighter pilot and female submarine commander in the early 1990s.

But in 2013, the Norwegian parliament passed a law applying military conscription to both sexes.

At the Setermoen army base just above the Arctic Circle, new recruits in an armoured battalion are learning to handle assault rifles for use on combat missions

At the Setermoen army base just above the Arctic Circle, new recruits in an armoured battalion are learning to handle assault rifles for use on combat missions

The Norwegian military welcomed its first female helicopter pilot, female jet fighter pilot and female submarine commander in the early 1990s. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

The Norwegian military welcomed its first female helicopter pilot, female jet fighter pilot and female submarine commander in the early 1990s. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

The Scandinavian country – where four of the last five defence ministers have been women – has is now the first Nato member and European country to draft both men and women, joining a tiny group of countries around the world, including Israel.

‘In operations, it’s an advantage having females. They have access to parts of the population that men don’t have, for instance for intelligence gathering,’ Lt Col Berglund said.

The army needs less than 10,000 new recruits each year, far fewer than the 60,000 who are liable to be called up. That means that only the most motivated will actually be asked to serve, in a country where military service is often seen as a personal accomplishment highly valued on the job market.

‘It enables you to cut the umbilical cord. It’s good that girls and boys get the same opportunities,’ new conscript Marianne Westum said.

‘I’m aiming to become much more independent, to learn to work as a team member, to make friends from other walks of life. Basically to become more grown-up.’

The 18-year-old shares living quarters with another woman and four men. Camouflage gear and a military-issued flask are neatly organised in a metal cupboard, only a bra and handbag indicating the presence of a woman.

The Scandinavian country is now the first Nato member and European country to draft both men and women

The Scandinavian country is now the first Nato member and European country to draft both men and women

In 2013, the Norwegian parliament passed a law applying military conscription to both sexes. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

In 2013, the Norwegian parliament passed a law applying military conscription to both sexes. Pictured, recruits training at a base Setermoen, Norway

Nina Hellum, a researcher at the Norwegian Research Defence Establishment, said there was no danger in having men and women share dormitories.

‘We see that exposure to each other increases tolerance, acceptance and understanding toward each other,’ she said.

‘You don’t s*** in your own nest. You don’t want to have sex and fraternise with anyone in your room for example or in your small unit because that makes it quite awkward.’

Male recruit Kasper Sjavag said the men were initially ‘a little shy’.

COUNTRIES THAT HAVE CONSCRIPTION FOR WOMEN

Norway, Bolivia, Chad, Eritrea, Israel, Mozambique, North Korea, Israel.

‘We didn’t really know how to behave around the girls,’ he admitted. ‘But once the initial awkwardness had passed, we relaxed and the girls were soon just like us.

Being mixed together with the guys ‘means that when it comes to performance, I really push my limits and can get used to working harder to keep up,’ Kasper’s female roommate, Gine Grimsbu, said.

‘From a social aspect, the guys treat us well and they’re respectful. There are a few who aren’t used to being with girls but I think it’ll be fine,’ she added.

A recent survey conducted by the Norwegian army showed that an overwhelming majority of female soldiers are in favour of unisex dorms. But 18 percent still said they had been subjected to inappropriate comments or behaviour. 

 

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