This PRIO Paper is part of a project entitled ‘NATO and the Women: Exploring the Gender Gap in the Armed Forces,’ funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence. The project has also produced a PRIO Policy Brief ’Closing the Gender Gap in the Armed Forces: The Varying Success of Recruitment and Retention Strategies in Nato’.
Since the late 1980s, a political goal of the Norwegian government has been to increase the number of women in the Norwegian Armed Forces (NAF). Nevertheless, growth has been slow and Norway is falling behind compared with other NATO countries. Despite being among the top four countries to establish initiatives for the recruitment and retention of women in military service, Norway is among the least successful of the NATO member countries in securing female personnel in its armed forces. Recruiting women at the national level serves to enlarge the pool from which female personnel are drawn for international operations. Thus, learning from countries that have been successful in maintaining a high number of women in their national force is essential if Norway is to secure a national pool of female personnel. Success in recruiting and retaining women in the national force, however, does not automatically reduce the gender gap in international missions. Trends in Norway suggest that different strategies must be used to target female candidates for international military service.