Norway becomes first NATO country to draft women into military

To match Special Report NORWAY/BREIVIKNorway’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to conscript women into its armed forces, becoming the first European and first NATO country to make military service compulsory for both genders.

“Rights and duties should be the same for all,” said Labor lawmaker Laila Gustavsen, a supporter of the bill. “The armed forces need access to the best resources, regardless of gender, and right now mostly men are recruited.”

Norway has been at the forefront in the fight for gender equality, introducing measures such as requiring all public limited companies to fill at least 40 percent of their board seats with women. On Wednesday the country celebrated a century since Norwegian women won the right to vote.

Women make up half of the current government, and opposition leader Erna Solberg is expected to become Norway’s second female prime minister in elections later this year, according to opinion polls which indicate her Conservative Party and its allies will win a parliamentary majority.

“This is historic. For me it is fantastic to make history, for the armed forces and for women,” Gustavsen said.

NATO member Norway has reduced its armed forces since the end of the Cold War and spends heavily on technology to keep a small but advanced military.

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