Women talk frankly about conscription at online national defense info days

A speaker at the Women in National Defense info days. Source: Ministry of Defense

Earlier this week, an informational event aimed at women was hosted online on the Women in National Defense (Naised Riigikaitses) Facebook page, to which nearly 200 people tuned in over two days.

"With zero military background and as a real girly-girl in high school, my interests and goals were somewhat different," Estonian Navy Lt. (j.g.) Daisi Želizko said, speaking during an Estonian-language online seminar about her experience with conscription according to a Ministry of Defense press release. "I was not interested in hiking and camping in various weather conditions, and really I couldn't picture myself in the military world at all. I think that is precisely why I liked conscription — it gave me the opportunity to do things that I wouldn't have otherwise experienced in the civilian world."

Online seminars were held in both Estonian and Russian, during which women learned how to prepare for conscription and what career opportunities open up as a result of completing training, as well as heard first-hand accounts about conscription.

"What I took with me from conscription was good physical form, an athletic lifestyle, and skills in leading people and processes," Sen. Sgt. Jekaterina Šavkun said during a Russian-language seminar. "But what I consider most important is my language skills — over the course of 11 months, I mastered the Estonian language, and that has helped me climb the career ladder quickly."

Topics of interest that came up included how women's biological differences could affect performance in conscription and the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), how sleep and washing facility conditions are arranged for women during conscription as well as more general topics such as whether vegetarians are accommodated and how frequently one can be in touch with their friends and family during conscription. Also asked was whether conscripts are allowed to take pictures or video for use on personal social media accounts or blogs.

"I think that conscription isn't hard for any woman who has made clear to themselves beforehand why they decided to sign up and what the longer-term goal is behind their decision to serve conscription," Želizko. "If you have something to work toward, then that really goes a long way in helping you to motivate yourself to overcome whatever difficulties you may face."

Informational days aimed at women were scheduled to take place in Võru and Narva in late March, but were initially postponed before being moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of the year, a total of nearly 400 young women participated in info days held in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and online.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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