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All Points North #54: Women in Finland's military - voluntary, obligatory or not at all?

Should Finland's conscript call-up extend to women and would it help deter future threats the country might face?

Audio: Yle News

Earlier this year the Finnish Defence Forces reported a record number of female applicants for military service. All the same, the current system of military service is quite dated and should not be gendered, says Suvi Kouri, a sociologist and former army chaplain. According to the military alumnus, Finland's record as a gender equality exemplar doesn't fully extend to the armed services.

Minna Vähäsalo of the pacifist organisation Committee of 100 and Kaj Raninen from the Union of Conscientious Objectors joined Kouri on APN for a discussion on whether or not women should serve as conscripts in the military.

Call for diversity in the military

Vähäsalo said that the Finnish conscription system is outdated and won't address the country's defence needs. She added that an expanded military that includes women would not necessarily address modern threats to society. She called for specialised teams that could respond to cyber threats or the fallout from climate change, which typically do not require large forces.

Raninen agreed that conscription in Finland is discriminatory in that it is only compulsory for men. However he said there is no need for the system at all. He joined Kouri in advocating for aligning with Sweden and Norway, where the de facto practice is for voluntary service in the military.

Meanwhile Kouri attributed claims of sexual harassment in the military to the fact that women are a very small minority in the service, as well as to its "masculine" nature. She called for more diversity in the forces.

Join the APN discussion

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The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's show was presented by Zena Iovino and Pamela Kaskinen. The producer was Denise Wall, assisted by Priya Ramachandran D'souza and the sound engineer this week was Anttoni Wickström.

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