Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik signed a bill on September 29 that allows women to serve both in the conscript service of the Estonian military and all its other branches and units.
According to Naiskodukaitse, the women’s voluntary defense organization in Estonia, women have actively participated in the Estonian defense effort since the 1920s. However, it was not until 2013 that women were allowed to enter the conscript service, reported the Baltic Times. Even so, only 15 women signed-up for the conscript service, with the number doubling the following year. In 2017, up to 27 women have signed up for the conscript service, though 91 more women still will possibly become involved. Every year, according to the Latvian Information Agency, the ceiling of how many women are accepted into the conscript service is slightly increased.
On the issue of female participation in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), Luik claimed, “The goal is to expand the opportunities for enlisting women in conscript service and allow them to complete conscript service in the same structural units [as]the male conscripts.”
Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, Russian military exercises near Estonia’s border have continued to heighten tensions and fears of Russian encroachment. Estonia has since displayed its military might in parades, featuring U.S. tanks and soldiers rolling through the capital of Tallinn, reported CBS News. The expansion of efforts to recruit women into the EDF could be a reaction to heightening tensions between Estonia and Russia.