State to triple number of women in military services by 2018
The state wants to triple the number of women serving in the Estonian Defence Forces within the next two years. Also, where women can currently only serve in two of the EDF’s armed services, they will be able to join all of them in the future.
Private Kairi Vanatoa is one of nine women who joined the EDF’s 2nd Infantry Brigade in summer 2016. According to Vanatoa, women and men are put up in the same barracks, but the women have a separate room. “There are now seven of us. We have only little space, but then again we’re all modest, so there’s no problem.”
Based on the regulation currently in effect, the EDF take on a maximum number of 30 women a year. This year, 23 women have signed up.
The state would like to increase this number by 2018, and let the military take on up to 108 women.
Defence Minister Hannes Hanso (SDE) said to ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” newscast on Wednesday that there was a lot left to do to get to this number. “Perhaps we won’t have as many, but we need to raise the bar,” Hanso said.
One of the reasons for the need to admit women to the military is the fact that Estonia is undergoing demographic change that is making it harder and harder to get the needed number of recruits together every year. Another reason is the wish to change the principles concerning the position of women in the defense forces.
“Women need to be included more, they need to be able to get involved,” Hanso said, adding that they also needed to become an everyday part of the EDF. “Today they’re an exception, but if we reach that critical mass, they become a normal part of our national defense.”
While currently women can enter the military twice a year with the 1st Infantry Brigade in Tapa, and once a year with the 2nd Infantry Brigade in Võru, beginning in 2018 women will be able to sign up to any one of the EDF’s drafts and any one of its armed services.
Col. Eero Rebo, in command of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, told ETV that they would face organizational issues once more women entered the EDF, but that these would be solved, and that the same kind of state-of-the-art premises would be available as the men used them.
The remaining very important issue was the current male-dominated atmosphere. “As women and men’s ways of thinking differ, it’s difficult at times, pretty difficult, but one can handle it,” Vanatoa said.