YEREVAN — The Armenian government announced on Friday plans to introduce voluntary military service for women.

A relevant bill approved by the government is part of its declared defense reforms and a gradual transition to a professional army promised by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

According to Defense Minister Suren Papikyan, after conscription, women will not be able to terminate or postpone the military service due to “family circumstances.”

“Until the day of conscription, they can refuse mandatory military service, and will serve in training military units,” Papikyan further clarified.

Under the bill drafted by the Armenian Defense Ministry, the six-month service will become obligatory for young women once they are formally drafted by the country’s armed forces.

They will serve in military training units for six months and then have the option of becoming contract soldiers eligible for combat duty. Also, every female conscript will be paid 1 million drams ($2,600) after completing the service.

“It will be a normal service, not a stroll through barracks,” Pashinyan said during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

The bill will likely be approved by the Armenian parliament. In that case, the military will be able to start enlisting women for the six-month duty already this fall.

The Armenian army already has female soldiers and officers within its ranks. Their current number is not revealed by the Defense Ministry.

It stood at over 1,400 in 2013 when Armenia’s two military academies began admitting women as cadets. The vast majority of the female personnel held clerical positions in the Defense Ministry, army detachments and other military structures.

There was also a growing number of women performing combat roles. They participated in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh and subsequent fighting on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan. Five Armenian women were killed during last September’s large-scale border clashes.

 

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