TALLINN - On Monday, the national defense committee of the Estonian parliament with representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the Naiskodukaitse women's arm of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps looked for ways to increase the involvement of women in military and broad-based national defense.
Chairman of the national defense committee Raimond Kaljulaid said that committee members commended Naiskodukaitse and all women who have voluntarily joined conscript and active duty service and want to contribute to national defense through Kaitseliit or Naiskodukaitse, parliamentary spokespeople said.
There are around 3,800 women involved in direct military and broad-based national defense in Naiskodukaitse, 1,100 of them have joined since March this year. A significant number of women also contribute to national defense in the districts and companies of Kaitseliit.
Kaljulaid said that Estonia must make more of an effort for women to be better represented in national defense. He pointed out that while in Finland, over 1,500 women join the defense forces each year, in Estonia, only 50 women are engaged in military service.
"I am certain that it is not a matter of willingness by women. The question is how well the defense forces are able to explain its career opportunities for women and demonstrate that women are welcome in military service and that it's a viable career alternative and an opportunity to contribute to ensuring the security of the Estonian state," he said, adding that in schools, girls' interest in national defense classes is even greater than that of boys.
Deputy chair of the national defense committee Leo Kunnas said that history has shown how important the contribution of the entire society, including by women, is in the defense of a country.
"We must also discuss creating permanent funding for activities regarding civil protection, which is part of broad-based national defense. This has also been the wish of the national defense committee previously," he said, adding that with the size of the defense forces growing during wartime, it is natural that the share of women in national defense also increases.
Overviews of the inclusion of women in broad-based and military national defense were given at the committee sitting by chair of Naiskodukaitse Airi Tooming, director of the defense service department at the Ministry of Defense Tonis Sonum. Sonum pointed out that the earlier young people arrive in the national defense information space and join the youth arms of Kaitseliit, the more they pick national defense classes in schools and join conscript service. That, in turn, will boost participation in later military training exercises and improve people's the will to defend Estonia all over the country.