KUWAIT: Defense ministry officials hold a press conference at the ministry yesterday. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti women will be able to register for military service from December, with 150 to 200 female volunteers expected to enlist. They are also exempt from living on military bases. This was announced during a press conference held yesterday at the ministry of defense, after the decision to allow women to serve in the army was criticized by some MPs and Islamists.

The decision was based on a previous study that was activated by ministry decree 657/2021, based on law 32/1967. According to this decision, women can join military service with ranks of specialty officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers. They will work in medical, paramedical and technical fields, according to the army's needs.

At yesterday's press conference, the ministry clarified the conditions for registration and the fields in which women will serve. Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army, Maj Gen Khaled Al-Kandari, explained that the conditions for women who volunteer to join the military are the same as those for men.

"Applicants will have to register online, and will receive a text message or email with the documents required, followed by the admission process, technical and medical checkups and personal interviews. We expect training courses to start at the beginning of next year," Kandari said, adding female volunteers will not stay overnight in camps.

"Lectures and training will differ depending on the field selected. The courses are similar to those for males, excluding those that do not conform with the nature of women. Also, special training that requires female teachers will be provided by female teachers and trainers to respect religious sentiments and our traditions," added Kandari.

The main goal of this decision is to allow female employees of the ministry of defense to join the army as volunteers. All Kuwaiti women can volunteer to work in the army in certain specializations. These female officers will get the same financial benefits as male officers. Shortages in some fields was behind the decision to allow women to join the army.

"There are some fields in which women are necessary, such as medical and paramedical fields. Also, women inspectors are needed to work as Amiri guards at palaces and personal guards for delegations of women visiting Kuwait. In addition, they are important in the technical, engineering, electronics, air force, air defense and administrative fields as well," highlighted Kandari.

Col Tareq Al-Sabr, Director of the Public Mobilization Directorate, noted that the decision was accompanied by a media campaign spread over multiple phases. 'Be one of them' is the slogan of the campaign. "The first phase was of registering Kuwaiti men in the army, which took place at The Avenues. The second phase was of registering children of Kuwaiti mothers as professional soldiers," he said.

"Currently, we are in the third phase of the campaign, which is for registering Kuwaiti women in the military's medical and paramedical fields. The fourth and final phase will be registering those listed in the 1965 or earlier censuses and children of officers as professional soldiers in special professions. This will be announced later," Sabr said.

The courses are one to three months long, depending on the chosen field. "After concluding the course, female graduates will receive ranks depending on their degree. For non-commissioned officers, university graduates will receive the rank of staff sergeant, diploma holders will receive the rank of sergeant plus two allowances, and high school graduates will receive the rank of sergeant.

For soldiers, those who have passed 11th grade will receive the rank of corporal with two allowances, those who have passed 10th grade will receive the rank of corporal and one allowance, those who have passed 9th grade will receive the rank of corporal, and those who have passed 8th grade or less will receive the rank of soldier," said Sabr.

Sabr also explained the steps for registration of women on the army's official website kuwaitarmy.gov.kw. The main conditions for enlistment include having Kuwaiti nationality, good health and good reputation (no criminal record), and passing the personal interview.