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Sweden mulls military service for women
( 2003-06-27 10:13) (Agencies)

A female Swedish soldier who serves in NATO's Stabilisation Force is shown in this undated file photo. [www.nato.int]

The government in Sweden, one of the world's leaders in equal rights for women, ordered the armed forces Thursday to consider introducing mandatory military service for females.

The Defense Ministry said it was part of a move to make Scandinavian country's military more efficient, as well as more egalitarian.

"It's important that the work for equality continues intensively within the armed forces," Defense Ministry spokesman Magnus Edin said.

He stressed that the government had not taken an official stance on mandatory service for women, but said it wants to boost the number of women in the armed forces.

Women are allowed to perform military service, but aren't required to. It is mandatory for men, although less than a third of the Scandinavian country's eligible 19-year-olds are actually drafted each year because of budget cutbacks. Sweden has a population of 8.9 million.

Sweden's military has 12,000 active-duty officers, of which 430 are women.

The military was ordered to present a report on women conscription by March 1, 2004. Parliament would have to approve any changes to the conscription law.

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