Denmark plans compulsory military conscription for women, as the country seeks to significantly boost the size of its armed forces.
The move can help Denmark meet its requirements under its NATO membership but it would also be “beneficial” for the military if it had more women employed, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the country’s defence minister and deputy prime minister, said in an interview with the broadcaster TV2.
Currently, women can join the military on a voluntary basis while men generally are required to serve if they are called on under a lottery system, for a duration of four months for most.
The new measure has the backing of several women’s organisations and comes as Denmark, like the rest of Europe, provides increasing levels of support to Ukraine in the war to oust Russia from the country.
Denmark’s neighbour Norway became the first member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to introduce a mandatory military draft for women from 2015, with the share of women in its military rising to 20% as of 2021.
Sweden reinstated conscription from 2017, extending it to women. The service in both countries still remains highly selective for both genders. The Netherlands also enlists women in its military since 2020, while the conscription is voluntary.
The defensce minister announced the plan as his office published the conclusions of a biannual report by NATO which criticised Denmark for failing to invest enough in its military, mainly on land and at sea. The ministry stopped short of publishing the full report, which it has done in previous years, citing the “current security policy situation and Russia’s aggression”.
The report was compiled before Denmark last month said it planned a one-time increase of 4.5 billion kroner ($660 million) in defence spending to reach 2% of gross domestic product in 2030, three years earlier than planned previously.
Denmark last week decided to give Ukraine its new French-made heavy artillery system, a total of 19 self-propelled guns of the Caesar class. The donation sparked a debate in the country due to fears that it might leave Denmark’s own defence vulnerable.
Ellemann-Jensen has said that Denmark for now has no plans to donate its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.