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Denmark is planning to extend military conscription to women, the third European nation to adopt such a measure, as part of a strategy to strengthen the country’s military in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the BBC reported.

Currently, military service is compulsory for men aged 18 and over. But starting in 2026, it will become a requirement for women aged 18 and above as well.

Prime Minister Metter Frederiksen said the move would help achieve full gender equality and bring the country in line with its neighbors, Norway and Sweden, which enacted female conscription in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Meanwhile, women can already volunteer for military service and made up 25 percent of last year’s cohort. Despite military service being compulsory for men, the number of applications usually exceeds demand, and volunteers are chosen through a lottery, Politico explained.

Frederiksen’s administration also announced the lengthening of the conscription service from four to 11 months and plans to increase military spending. By injecting nearly $6 billion into the defense budget in the next five years, Denmark aims to meet NATO’s target of member states spending two percent of their national GDP on defense.

The effort is in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. One of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, Copenhagen decided to supply Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets.

The overhaul of the military should help deter attacks from Russia, Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said.

“We are rearming right now … (sic) in a world where the international order is being challenged,” Frederiksen said.

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