Norway has joined Israel and Eritrea, becoming one of a handful of countries worldwide that conscript women.
The bill was framed as an equality measure, an official announcement in English reading '100 years after Norway introduced full voting rights for women, the Norwegian Parliament voted to adopt compulsory conscription for women as well as men with an overwhelming majority', and terming it 'gender-neutral conscription'. It continues 'We do not adopt conscription for women because we need more soldiers, but because we need the best, no matter who they may be, says the Defence Minister, and adds: - High-tech equipment alone does not make for a modern military; we also need a modern and diverse organisation with different people, skills and perspectives.' Norway’s Defence Minister, Mrs. Anne-Grete Stroem-Erichsen called it 'an historic day for equality and for our armed forces'.
This measure has been discussed in Norway for some years (see our July 2007 CO Update).
Such actions have the impact of giving the military a sheen of equality. Women involved in military institutions are much more likely to face sexual abuse and harassment than their males colleagues. Their inclusion does not undermine the army's violence or deeply masculinist nature. Read The Broken Rifle edition on Gender and Militarism for a deeper look at these issues. There will also be an article looking at the decision, written by a feminist in Norway, in the next edition of The Broken Rifle. Sign up here to receive this: http://lists.wri-irg.org/sympa/info/thebrokenrifle
Sources: The Norway Post, Norway adopts conscription for both men and women, 16 June 2013; norway.org.uk, Norway extends compulsory military service to women, 20 June 2013; The Telegraph, Norway votes to extend conscription to women, 17 June 2013.