Girls will be eligible for compulsory military service from January next year after the Senate passed a change in the law.
The reform is largely a symbolic measure, as active military service was abolished in 1997. ‘It means that the law will no longer distinguish between men and women regarding the defence of the homeland,’ said defence department spokesman Klaas Meijer.
All boys and girls will be sent a letter in the year they turn 17 informing them they have been added to the military service register. They can be called up at any time if the Netherlands goes to war with another country before they turn 45.
The law has also been amended to change references to ‘brothers’ to ‘brothers and sisters’ and make the clause on conscientious objection gender neutral.
Officials say they hope the changes will encourage more women to apply for military careers. ‘At the moment we only have 10% of women in service, which is far too little,’ Meijer told RTL Nieuws.
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