22:56 GMT28 February 2021
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    Just several weeks ago, Sweden launched a PR-campaign informing the public about the availability of free period products for female conscripts as a big win in its efforts to achieve equality. Now, Norway has decided to follow its neighbour's example.

    The Norwegian Armed Forces have decided to provide female conscripts with free sanitary napkins and tampons, national broadcaster NRK reported.

    Earlier this week, female conscripts learned that Swedish soldiers receive free free period products and launched a campaign asking why they don't enjoy the same privilege.

    In late January, Sweden launched a PR-campaign informing the public about the availability of free period products for female conscripts as a big win in its efforts to achieve equality. Now, the Norwegian military has decided to follow suit.

    ​"We will requisition it through the supply system, as we do with cocoa and shoe polish", army chief Lars Lervik told the army magazine Forsvarets Forum. "We have had a quick review of the case, and the Army will immediately initiate measures to ensure that pads and tampons are available to the soldiers in the garrison and field", Lervik noted.

    Chief Sergeant in the Army, Rune Wenneberg, voiced his disappointment that this had not been taken care of before.

    "We had all these articles in our supply system, so then it was easy to find a solution. All you have to do is actively order bandages and tampons so that they are available to our soldiers", he told NRK, stressing that arrangements should be made for everyone to succeed in their role as soldiers. "There isn't always agreement on what challenges time and money should be spent, but this was a matter of course", he added.

    "I am very happy on behalf of the soldiers. At the same time, I am very pleased to be listened to by the command. All in all, I am super happy", Army chief shop steward Linnea Røbech, one of the campaigners, told NRK. By her own admission, she was astonished at the quick reply.

    However, the news sparked even sceptical voices. Among others, Per Willy Amundsen of the Progress Party questioned the role of women in the front line.

    "Something tells me that the idea of conscription for women in the front line was not necessarily the most thoughtful decision. There are undeniable physical differences between the sexes that even the most ardent feminists cannot deny. That's not politically correct, but I do not care", Amundsen wrote on Facebook.

    Amundsen emphasised that he is not against women in the Armed Forces, but that women and men must be treated equally. Therefore, toiletries should be provided by the individual.

    In the past, female conscripts had to pay for the hygiene products themselves. The Armed Forces, however, paid a service supplement to all conscripts, regardless of gender, intended to cover soldiers' private expenses.

    In Norway, the proportion of women conscripts is 29 percent and has been steadily rising since 2013, when the Scandinavian nation extended conscription to women, becoming the first NATO member and first European country to make national service compulsory for both men and women.

    Norway's peacetime force is around 23,250 personnel including military and civilian staff, and up to 63,250 in total in full mobilisation, including the Home Guard.

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    army, women, Scandinavia, Norway
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