More and more Swedish women are applying for the basic military education known as GMU. This year as many as 20% of the applicants were women, which is a big change from the time when Sweden had compulsory military service, and the proportion of women doing military service was only five %.
”We are very happy over these numbers and the change they bring about,” says Peter Öberg, chief of staff at Högkvarteret at the Försvarsmakten (the Swedish Armed Forces) to daily DN. This has been an upgoing trend for the past three years. In 2011, 14% of the applicants were women, and last year 19% of them were. According to Öberg, this is all thanks to marketing: ”During compulsory military service, all men came in natural contact with the Armed Forces, but women never received that sort of information. Today we market ourselves in a completely different way, since we must recruit from the entire society, thus women see us too,” he says. (Conscription, Sweden's compulsory service, which had been in place since 1901, ended on July 1, 2010)
The goal is for the Armed Forces to be gender equal, and within the next years, the number of services will be expanded. According to Öberg, the Armed Forces will be Sweden’s biggest authority, and the biggest youth employer. Those who are hired, may work in any field, regardless of gender, and the distribution of what women choose to work with is today spread equally throughout the organization. That the profession appeals to more women is only advantageous and makes the workplace a better place, Öberg says.
The voluntary basic training is three months long, and was concluded for the first time in 2011. The education takes place in several locations around the country, and the Armed Forces recruits for it 3-4 times a year. The selection is done through a web-based aptitude survey as well as an admission test. GMU makes a person qualified for being employed as a soldier or sailor in the Armed Forces, it also makes the person eligible for continued supplemental training for the specialist and officer training program, or for service in the Home Guard with the national security forces.