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Could Switzerland be about to make military service compulsory for women?

Could Switzerland be about to make military service compulsory for women?

Women in Switzerland should be subject to compulsory military service in the same way that men are, according to the president of the Swiss Officers' Association. The president added that it is “time for both genders to have the same rights and duties in the military”.

Every able-bodied Swiss man is required to do military service from the age of 19

Swiss men who are living in Switzerland are required to take part in military service, unless they are deemed unfit to serve. Some do however manage to avoid being conscripted by opting for civilian community service, or can pursue weaponless service on the grounds of conscientious objection. Swiss men living or studying abroad are not called up for military service, unless they return to Switzerland for a long period of time (such as for work). 

Women have not been subject to the laws on conscription thus far, although they may volunteer to serve. Today, women make up less than one percent of Swiss military service personnel. The SOG president stated that the group “are convinced that the army can no longer do without more than 50% of society's potential”. The SOG is an independent umbrella association with around 22.000 members that represent all of the country’s regional officers’ associations. 

The SOG are not alone in their concerns. Switzerland’s Federal Department of Defence has expressed an interest in bringing women into military service,  "Service Citoyen" association in Geneva plans to launch an initiative on August 1 to make military / civilian service compulsory for both men and women.

Internationals are exempt from military service (but their Swiss-born children may not be)

As things stand, internationals and expats are not required to take part in military service, however Swiss-born sons of expats can be called up at age 19, assuming they have Swiss citizenship. In the case that the country enters into a conflict or war, overseas Swiss nationals can also be called up for service.

The new proposals could see both genders being called up, unless they leave the country to move elsewhere, in which case, they receive a temporary exemption. 

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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