Norway Becomes First NATO Country to Draft Women

June 28, 2017

Norway has become the first NATO country to conscript women for military service.  Out of a group of 10,000 draftees who will be reporting for duty in the last week of July, 3,270 are women. Norway has long required its young men to sign up for its military draft.  

With women included this year, the pool of potential conscripts grew to 60,000 from the usual 30,000. All boys and girls born in 1997 were required to take physical exams and mental aptitude tests, and then the top 10,000 were selected for service.  

The process of selection is gender-neutral with no quota for the number of women chosen. Assignments to specialties and units are also gender blind. Norway opened all specialties, including combat, to women 31 years ago.  Within units there is also little distinction between women and men.  Females complete the same duties and sleep in the same quarters as male soldiers.  Only showers are separate. 

There has been some controversy in Norway regarding female conscription. Women’s physical capabilities have been questioned, especially for service in the infantry, which requires soldiers to carry heavy equipment over long distances.  However, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexsander Jankov, the Norwegian army’s spokesperson has reported that current female soldiers already serving the infantry are generally as good as or better than their male counterparts. Norwegian women themselves have generally seemed to accept the new requirement to sign up for the draft.

This may be because the Norwegian Army has been named one of the more popular employers in polls of college students. The results of Norway’s decision should be of interest to other countries trying to boost participation of women in the military, especially within the U.S. whose Senate has recently passed legislation requiring women to register for the draft. Original source:

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