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Norway: Draft for Women Considered

(May 8, 2013) In April 2013, the Labour Party in <?Norway joined its coalition partners, the Socialist Left Party and the Center Party, in approving a measure that would include women in the mandatory military service plan. Some political parties from outside the governing coalition have also approved the idea. If adopted, the proposal would make the draft gender-neutral, including women in compulsory military duty. At present, women can serve in the Norwegian military on a voluntary basis. (Nina Berglund, Norway Closer to Drafting Women, NEWS AND VIEWS FROM NORWAY (Apr. 22, 2013).)

Women in Norway already go through sesjonsplikt, a program under which they may be called in to be evaluated for military service. The change to allow conscription is controversial, even within the governing parties. The Defense Minister, Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen of the Labour Party, in supporting the proposal, argued that “[t]he defense forces have among the greatest power in Norway, and if that’s left only to men, it goes against the fundamental principle of equality in the country. … We favour rights and duties being shared. That must also apply if we face a crisis.” (Id.) She also noted that the military needs more women; not enough have volunteered for service following the sesjonsplikt evaluation. (Norwegian Labour Party Supports Military Draft for Women, ICE NEWS (Apr. 28, 2013).)

Anniken Huitfeldt, Norway’s Labour Minister, disagrees, however, stating that the military is not in need of more personnel, and most young men now are rejected and do not end up serving. She added that the equality argument ignores the actual requirements of the military. (Berglund, supra.) Kjersti Toppe of the Center Party has proposed a system of mandatory community service, including such duties as working in nursing homes, as an alternative way to serve the country for both men and women. (Norwegian Labour Party Supports Military Draft for Women, supra.)