Women join military in record numbers

Altered length for basic training and personal invitations have resulted in far more young women voluntarily entering the Danish National Service

Some 300 young women voluntarily signed up for the national forces in the first half of this year to join their peer male conscripts. The newest numbers are significantly higher than in previous years. In 2005 only 178 women enrolled in military training.

Although women made up just four percent of those who attended the annual Defence Day, an information day for those interested in taking basic training, more than two-thirds of them chose to enrol - a total of 284 women.

Asmus Lorenzen, section leader of recruitment, expects that the surprising amount of women who enrolled this year will boost the number of women who choose to become professional soldiers in the future.

Lorenzen said the increase in women recruits could be due to the shortened term of required service instituted this year. Compared to the eight to 12 months of previous years, obligatory duty has been reduced to four months, a manageable length of time he said.

Personal, written invitations sent out to women have also had an impact of how many chose to enrol this year, reported daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

'If we can provide the newest women recruits with a positive experience during basic training, they will become good ambassadors for us among other women,' said Lorenzen.

With the exception of the Navy's elite Frogman Corps and Army's Special Forces, women have been accepted into a variety of divisions including combat troops.

Søren Gade, minister of defence, said the distribution of women in specialised forces is still in its infancy but demographics will improve in coming years.

Gade hopes that the recent jump in female enrolment will help balance the gender gap in Denmark's national forces, where women only make up three percent of those who have chosen to pursue a military profession.

In a survey conducted by Epinion of those who attended Defence Day, 92 percent of the women in attendance left with a more positive impression of the military.

'It's important that young people and their families have the chance to see that the armed forces do other things than going to Iraq and Afghanistan,' said Gade.

The increasing number of women will make it easier for the National Military to fill the some 1100 vacant permanent positions.

The Copenhagen Post

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