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Norway votes overwhelmingly to adopt gender-neutral armed forces draft

June 16, 2013 at 5:27 PM

OSLO, Norway, June 16 (UPI) -- Norway's Parliament voted overwhelmingly to install a policy of gender-neutral armed forces conscription, Norway's defense minister announced.

The new measure was adopted in Oslo Friday, making Norway the only European country with a policy of gender-neutral conscription, said Anne-Grete Stroem Erichsen, the defense minister.

She said male-only conscription is outdated, all citizens should have the same rights and obligations, regardless of sex, and tapping into the female population would increase diversity and help in efforts to recruit the best soldiers.

She said the goal is 20 percent women in Norway's armed forces by 2020, up from today's figure of nine percent.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday the measure makes Norway the first NATO member to adopt the policy of gender neutral conscription,

"We are sending out the signal that, once again, Norway's thinking ahead when it comes to gender equality," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

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