A record number of women have applied for voluntary military service in the Defence Forces this year. About two thirds of female soldiers have gone on to receive higher ranks in the army in recent years.
A total of 1,126 women applied to enter voluntary military service this year, an all-time record. The annual application period for the next training batches ended on March 1.
The previous record was from 2016, when 842 women signed up.
Captain Timo Miettinen from the Finnish Army general staff attributes the rise in numbers to several phenomena, including the Defence Forces being in the public eye more than before.
"The news has been full of issues of domestic security in recent times, and conscription has gotten some good press," Miettinen says.
Other reasons Miettinen cites as reasons for a rise in female applicants are the Defence Forces' online social media presence as well as the global security situation. More than 7,000 women are in army reserves already, and positive experiences may spread among women "through the grapevine," the captain says.
Highest proportions in Pori and Kainuu
The Pori Brigade saw the most female applicants in the country; 222 women applied, compared with 156 one year previously. Next came the Kainuu Brigade with 167, the Kaarti Jäger Regiment with 165 and the Karelia Brigade with 120 applicants.
Selection events in Defence Forces regional offices in April will mainly assign the volunteers to basic training periods beginning in January or February, 2018.
Some applicants may be assigned earlier, to a batch entering training in July.
Since 1995, the Defence Forces have trained more than 7,400 women who serve in the military reserves. Some 65-70 percent of the female soldiers have received leadership training and attained ranks above private.
Finland employs a conscription system that applies to all men aged between 18 and 29. Depending on the wishes and suitability of the conscript in question, men can opt to serve in a civilian service capacity (currently 347 days) instead of undertaking military training (165-347 days, depending on the desired rank).
Still others are acquitted from serving at all due to health issues, and some refuse both civilian and military service on moral grounds. These men are sentenced to 173 days in prison. Women are exempt from obligatory conscription.