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Norway debates conscription to military service for women

Winter drill (Photo: Forsvarets Mediesenter)

The question about conscription to military service for women will probably be debated at the national congresses to all three Norwegian government parties.

The Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party are all divided in the question of conscription to military service for women in Norway.

The Labour Party’s program committee today presented its program proposition for the period 2009-2013. The committee’s leader, Minister of Fisheries Helga Pedersen, is in favor of conscription for women, along with three other members of the committee.

- This is an emotional question for many people, Pedersen says, and adds that there are both equality political and defence political arguments for conscription for women:

- Even though the number of women in the armed forces is gradually increasing, we have not been able to recruit enough. Conscription is an important instrument to recruit more women to the armed forces and to higher positions, Pedersen says to the newspaper Dagsavisen.

Minister of Equality Anniken Huitfeldt, also a member of the Labour Party’s program committee, is against conscription for women:

- Only 8000 out of 30 000 boys go through compulsory military service each year. If women should be included, only one out of eight will be taken in for service, and you can no longer say that Norway has general conscription, Huitfeld says.

The majority in the committee would rather give women compulsory liability examination for military service. This has also been suggested by the Norwegian government in the new Law on conscription.

The Labour Party’s national congress will be held in April, while the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party have their congresses in March. The question of women’s role in the armed forces will most certainly be discussed on all three occasions.