Record number of women sign up for military service in 2020

Women at military service.
Women at military service. Source: ERR

A record number of women signed up for military service in 2020, data from the Ministry of Defense shows. In previous years the figure has averaged 30, but this year it will pass 50.

Defense Force Academy's 11th air force cadet, Iida Elise Murumets is one of the women who has decided to tie her life and career to the Defense Forces. Before studying at the academy, Murumets spent 11 months at headquarters and with the Signal Batallion and afterwards started active service in the battalion.

Murumets told ERR what she likes most about the forces is how she can challenge herself and the number of opportunities she has. Looking back at her time in military service, Murumets said men and women were treated equally and there was nothing particularly difficult. "Only in the case of push-ups and the 3,2 kilometer run, are the requirements different for women. I lived in the same room with the boys."

A representative of the Ministry of Defense Laura Toodu said, regardless of gender, the same rules apply for men and women and women adjust well into military life.

"Women enter military service on equal terms, the general physical test is the only aspect that is different for women and men, but the rest of the service, including training and equipment, everything is equal and works the same. Just like the boys, there are weaker ones, it's the same among girls, but it completely depends on the individual, but generally, women manage well."

This is also reflected in the data. Almost 60 percent of the women who have completed military service continue in active service.

In addition, a record number of women have signed up to military service this year. "There about eight women joining in October, so there will be 54 women altogether," Toodu said. Conscripts can join the Defense Forces in January, July and October. 

Discussing making military service mandatory for women, Toodu said that it has not been decided yet and Estonia could move towards this - but first society needs to be ready to have this discussion. Currently, conscription only applies to men in Estonia.

Earlier this summer, ERR News reported that 38 girls started military service in 2019, but 40 joined this summer in July - the highest number in a single intake.

More women to become conscripts in 2021

In 2021, the maximum number of conscripts to be called up for military service will be 3,500 and a total of 112 women will be allowed to serve in the military.

Women aged between 18-27 who have at least basic education can participate. 

Women who have entered the military service have the right to resign from military service within 90 days of entering the military. 

More information about women in the Estonian military can be read here (link in Estonian). The website says there are currently 336 women in active service.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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