A bill introducing compulsory military service for women

The Government today submitted a bill to the Storting on the introduction of universal compulsory military service. The effect of the bill will be to extend conscription to women on terms equal to those that apply to men.

The Government today submitted a bill to the Storting on the introduction of universal compulsory military service. The effect of the bill will be to extend conscription to women on terms equal to those that apply to men.

“This is a historic year,” says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide. “Two hundred years after Norway got its own constitution and 101 years after women got the vote, I am proud to put forward this bill regarding changes to the Compulsory Military Service Act and the Home Guard Act that are needed to introduce universal conscription. Norway thus becomes the first NATO country to give women and men equal rights and obligations to defend their country.”

Of the more than 60,000 people in each year’s conscription cohort, about 22,000 are now called in to “Session Part 2” to determine fitness for service. Today about 7,000 of these are women. A selection then takes place in accordance with the needs of the Armed Forces and the skill levels required. Finally, some 9,500 conscripts turn up to perform “first-time” or initial military service, including about 1,100 women.

“Initial service will be based as much as possible on voluntarism, as is the case today, but the needs of the Armed Forces will obviously come first,” says Eriksen Søreide. “We’ll motivate and pave the way for women and men to join the Armed Forces ­– and remain there. The introduction of conscription for women is an important way to secure access by the Armed Forces to the best available skills among both women and men, and eventually to increase the proportion of women in the military. Universal compulsory service is about equal rights and duties for both genders.”

The proposition presented today is consistent with the Storting’s decision on 14 June 2013 to introduce universal compulsory military service. It is proposed that the legislative amendments enter into force on 1 January 2015. Conscription for women will then apply to women born on 1 January 1997 and later.

Read the bill here (in Norwegian).