Finnish women may be called to military service in the future

Proponents say universal call-ups would help prevent marginalisation and attract more women into military service.

All parties in parliament took part in the committee's work rethinking Finnish conscription. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

A cross-party parliamentary committee has proposed extending military call-ups to women, but not conscription, which is mandatory for Finnish males.

The committee argued that a universal call-up could help prevent social marginalisation as officials would reach out to everyone in a certain age group.

Call-ups would also be an opportunity for more women to learn more about carrying out voluntary service. That said, Finland is widening its net as more men opt out of military service, either for personal or health reasons.

"The call-up system would be entirely renewed, becoming more of a time to check-in with an entire age group," Joonas Könttä (Cen), the committee's vice-chair said, adding that these meetings would provide 18 year-olds with information on defense and personal health.

While the committee did not take a position on what types of sanctions missing a call-up would entail, Könttä said the consequences of not showing up should be the same for women as for men.

The government has yet to take a stance on the work of the committee, which is expected to present more detailed conclusions later this month. Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) has said he will comment on the matter once the committee presents its final report.

Defence Forces lukewarm

The Defence Forces are meanwhile not keen on organising universal call-ups simply for the purpose of preventing marginalisation, saying such matters fall beyond the scope of the Defence Forces.

The committee has also looked into possibly shortening civilian service or introducing a new type of citizens' service as an alternative to non-military service.

Kaikkonen has previously said civilian service should better support various security needs in society.

The Left Alliance said it plans to publish a dissenting opinion to the committee's report because it did not take a stance on shortening the duration of civilian service, according to MP Jari Myllykoski (LA).

The Left Alliance has called for shortening the duration of non-military service, which now lasts 347 days, compared to military service which can be carried out in 255 or 347 days.