Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso met today with young women who have completed national defence training in Tallinn’s schools, to speak with them about increasing the participation of women in conscript service and national defence as a whole.
Minister of Defence Hanso stressed that, as is the case in other areas in life, there is no reason to draw a distinction based on gender in national defence, as women are equally as good and worthy as men when it comes to contributing to national defence.
“It is critical that we end the restrictions on one section of society participating in national defence. Estonia’s population is too small to leave half of it out of developing our national defence,” said Hanso.
According to the Minister of Defence, changes must be made to the commonly held attitudes in our society that military service is an activity reserved primarily for men.
“Women are capable of doing as much as men, and in many areas restrictions are in place only in terms of thinking and will. If we don’t start dealing right now with increasing the level of participation by women in national defence, then 20 years from now Estonia will still not have a female general,” said Hanso.
The Minister met with young women who had completed national defence training and discussed how national defence training in upper secondary schools could be made more interesting, along with motivational opportunities to increase the number of women in conscript service.
According to the participants in the discussion, the attitude of parents towards the field of national defence plays a significant part in children’s opportunities to participate actively. Another thing requiring refutation is the preconceived notion that women are somehow not being sought to participate in national defence.
In the opinion of many of the young women who participated in the discussion, national defence training as well as conscript service could be mandatory for everyone since the knowledge and experience obtained are universally useful.
Women have been able to volunteer for conscript service since 2013. The percentage of women among conscripts has thus far remained below one per cent.
During the period 2013-2015 a total of 62 women started conscript service, with 39 having successfully completed service. There are currently 22 women in conscript service.
Starting in 2018, women will be able to complete conscript service in all military units in which conscripts are trained. The quota on the number of female conscripts will also be increased from the current 30 to 108.