Is Germany about to conscript women?

A female soldier is pictured during the Wettiner Schwert 2024 military exercises
Soldiers pictured during military exercises on March 26, 2024 in Tangermunde, Germany (Picture: Getty)

Women – as well as men – should be included in Germany’s conscription plans as Europe faces war, the country’s defence minister has argued.

General Boris Pistorius has proposed a new model for compulsory national service in case of a conflict, against the backdrop of Russia’s bloodshed in Ukraine, well in its third year.

More than a decade after Germany scrapped national service, its defence ministry wants to introduce a ‘new military model’.

It is loosely based on a Swedish one, where conscription is selective and gender neutral.

In case of a war, all 18-year-old German men would have to put their names down – but only the most suitable and motivated 5,000 would be actually called up.

The decision comes as more and more European nations, particularly members of Nato, are considering restoring some form of military or universal conscription.

But General Breuer called for ‘gender equality’, urging for women to be included in the scheme.

He told RND, a consortium of local and regional newspapers: ‘At the moment, we have a suspended military service, which, according to the constitution, is solely aimed at the male population.

‘Here we should establish gender equality – but for that we will first require a corresponding discussion in politics and society.’

Under the new model, military service would involve six months of basic training followed by the option for voluntary additional service up to 17 months.

While young men would be obliged to conscript, women could sign up, but on a voluntary basis. 

The proposal is yet to be approved by the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, but it shows a major societal and governmental shift.

It comes just months after Denmark announced plans to conscript women for military service, becoming one of just a few countries requiring women to serve in the armed forces.

Norway and Sweden introduced female conscription in 2015 and in 2017, respectively.

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