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National Service for women?

Should Singaporean women get involved in National Service? What's your take on this hot issue?

The military has traditionally been about men, muscles, strength and bravado. When women get involved in the military, they are often looked up to and are commended for their courage and effort.

But what if that is to change? What if women have to complete National Service (NS) as well?

What's going on?
The topic of NS for women cropped up in May this year, during an Our Singapore Conversation session organised by the People's Association. It was suggested as a way to forge a "stronger national identity" among Singaporeans.

Last week, the topic came up again, during an all-female focus group organised at Ulu Pandan Community Club. A group of 54 women aged between 19 and 60 years old suggested that NS is "a critical rite of passage" and that "females should not be left out".

Singaporean women already have the option to apply for any position in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) except for Commandos and the Army Development Force. Today, most women in the SAF sign on as specialists and warrant officers, military experts, and intelligence analysts. Women now account for 7.5 per cent of the SAF's pool of regulars.

The SAF said that it aims
to recruit at least 500 more women by 2018 to double its current female staff strength to at least 3,000. They are also looking into hiring women in areas like "cyber-defence, military intelligence and air warfare surveillance".

It is crucial to have more women recruits as the SAF is facing a shrinking pool of male enlistees. With the declining birth rate, the number of male enlistees could drop from 21,000 in 2011 to 15,000 a year in the future.

16-year-old student Heng Jia Min is all for the idea of NS for women. She wants to be given the option of serving NS. She said: "National identity is about a shared national experience, and if NS can provide this platform, then I think it should be done."

However, blogger Andrew Wan disagrees. He said: "It boils down to how many people we need in the SAF, because taking women out of the workforce as well would double the drain on the economy..."

Netizen gemini58 sums up the issue succinctly: "The dwindling birthrates will overall affect the entire economy some day. Lets not be another detroit city which saw the problems some time ago but did too little to save [sic]."

What's your take?
  1. Do you think women should serve NS? Why?
  2. Ladies: Do you want to serve NS? What would entice you to serve NS?
  3. Guys: What do you think about having more ladies in the military?
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Tags: News Opinions