Justice

Four Countries That Draft Female Soldiers

March 13th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

There's a lot of talk about whether women should have to register for a military draft in the U.S.

At a time when gender equality is at the forefront of political discussion, only American men older than 18 are required to register with the Selective Service System, although the U.S. hasn’t used the draft since the Vietnam War. The Selective Service System creates a pool of men from 18 to 25 who could be drafted in a time of crisis. Military officials suggested earlier this year that women should have to register for the draft and at least one bill on the draft issue was introduced in Congress. A February phone survey by Rasmussen Reports showed that 49 percent of likely U.S. voters agree that women should have to register for a potential camouflage uniform.

Although most military drafts across the world only apply to men, some countries do require women to serve. Here are four countries with a draft for female soldiers.

1. Israel

With one of the most well-known drafts in the world, Israel has a long-standing policy of mandatory military service for both men and women, although there are several exemptions, including those for expecting and current mothers and on religious grounds. 

Dan Arbell, an American University professor and former official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, told ATTN: that female military service is a common part of Israeli society.

“It doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on families,” he said. “People don’t give it a second thought.”

Female Israeli Soldier in a Field of Flowers

But women were not always seen as equals in the ranks. In 1994, Alice Miller sued the Israeli Defense Army because her gender prevented her from becoming a pilot. She won and and now combat roles are open to women.

“The military used to be something women need to do, get it over with and move on,” said Arbell, whose wife served in the Israeli Army. “Today the military is seen in a different light by Israeli women because it’s more diverse and there’s more opportunities.”

2. Norway

Norwegian Tank

As part of a broader push for gender equality, Norway’s parliament voted to become the first European country to draft women into its military in 2013.

“The armed forces need access to the best resources regardless of gender, and right now mostly men are recruited,” the Labor Party’s Laila Gustavsen, a supporter of the bill, told Reuters.

After receiving a different kind of letter than most teenagers hope for, thousands of 17-year-old girls filled out a preliminary military questionnaire to help officials determine strengths and weaknesses. Starting in summer 2016, women between the ages of 19 and 44 must complete 19 months of military service alongside men.

The Scandinavian country is a leader in gender equality, requiring public companies to fill at least 40 percent of their board members with women and about 40 percent of its parliament is female.

3. North Korea

Korean Soldiers in High Heels

The often secretive government of North Korea started a mandatory draft in 2015 for female high school graduates until the age of 23, a shorter term than drafted men who must serve 10 years, according to the The Guardian. Although military life in North Korea remains somewhat of a mystery, pictures of female soldiers walking along a river in high heels surfaced in 2013.

4. Bolivia

Both women and men older than 18 can be drafted into Bolivia’s military, if the number of volunteers falls short. The country appointed its first female Army general, Gina Reque Teran last year, making her the first woman to directly command combat troops in Latin America.

Honorable Mention

British Women WWII

Great Britain drafted women during WWII in non-combat roles. By law, women had to choose between working in agriculture or industry or joining the British military. Parliament ended the female draft with the end of the war.

Here at home, Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, a former Marine and Montana’s Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, introduced a bill in February that would require American women to register for the draft. The move was designed to protest the Obama administration's opening of all combat roles to women, and both said they would probably vote against their own bill.

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