Defense forces NCO: Women's military participation waning

Mia-Alexandra Aidla on Raadio 2's morning show.
Mia-Alexandra Aidla on Raadio 2's morning show. Source: Maribel Ermel

Participation by women in national defense in Estonia has declined somewhat of late, at least according to one soldier.

Appearing on Raadio 2's morning show to talk about an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) campaign, "Naised vormi!", aimed at getting more women involved in national defense, Junior Sgt (Nooremseersant) Mia-Alexandra Aidla said that: "There is a huge push with the Naiskodukaitse," referring to the women's branch of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit).

"However, the activity of women within the defense forces has fallen somewhat."

Part of the problem, Aidla said, may be fear of the unknown rather than a reluctance to serve.

"Women are signing up, but then often say, look, I'm actually not attending. There are likely personal reasons or fears [behind this]," Aidla went on.

Aidla was one of just a few women serving with the EDF's artillery battalion.

"There were still moments when it was mentally difficult, but I felt that this was something I had to do," she said, adding that men and women are treated equally in the EDF and during a soldier's basic course.

The "Naised vormi!" campaign addresses some of the misgivings noted above and also provides opportunities for women to job-shadow before signing up.

"Usually a woman or a girl (aged 15-21) visits to a troop, where they are given equipment / .../ and they can go with one unit to spend the night out in the forest," she said.

The EDF is Estonia's regular defense force and conscripts men. The Defense League, including Naiskodukaitse, is its volunteer analogue, though with the current security situation the two organizations are cooperating more and more closely, including with an initiative which will see EDF reservists appended to the nearest Defense League district (Malev) to where they reside, aimed at forming up a light infantry home defense force.

As reported by ERR News, Naiskodukaitse saw a surge in interest in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting February 24, with over 2,000 signing up.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Maiken Tiits

Source: Radio 2 "Hommik!"

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