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|Updated: 26-Mar-2002||Committee on Women in NATO Forces|
After World War II, the need to modernise the Military Nursing Corp became readily apparent. In February 1946, a law was enacted which provided for the establishment of the Nursing Officers Corps, and thus the entrance of women into the Hellenic Armed Forces. In October of the same year, another law established the Military Nursing School. The graduates of this school are commissioned Second Lieutenants and are assigned to the three services. Women NCOs were first introduced into the Greek Armed Forces in 1979. The aim was to release a significant number of enlisted men from support duties and increase their numbers in combat units and ultimately, enhance the strength and combat effectiveness of the Armed Forces. Additionally, it shortened the long period of military conscription for males and allowed them an earlier return to civilian life. In 1990, the first women were admitted to the Military Academies, albeit with some restrictions.
In accordance with Greek Law, women aged 20 to 32, when called up, are obligated to enlist for service in the Armed Forces. This compulsory enlistment is envisaged only in times of war or in the event of mobilisation. In exceptional cases, during peacetime, the Minister of Defence can, on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Council, call up females to enlist in the Armed Forces. The enlistment comprises 14 months of obligatory service which can be extended to 24 months, and obligations for reserve duty for as long as necessary. Women who are mothers, without parents or family providers, are exempted from enlistment.
Women are treated equally in terms of training and promotion and are subject to the same rules of disciplinary action.
Pregnancy and maternity laws allow a woman, after the completion of the 16th week of pregnancy, to take one-year leave with full pay. At the end of that year, they return to active duty.
Women officers and NCOs serve alongside their male counterparts and have the same rights and obligations. They are also subject to the same regulations and provisions regarding penal and disciplinary offences.
Women are banned from combat tasks, as defined by Presidential Decrees and Laws. Women officers may join the Armed Forces either through the Military Nursing School or the Service Academies. Women serve in the Army (not as line officers), Navy (only as finance officers), and Air Force (only as engineers) or as medical doctors, recruiters, finance officers, or on legal staffs. The highest rank obtained by a woman to date is Brigadier General (Nursing Corp).
Women NCOs find 84 specialities open to them in the Army, 42 in the Navy, and 34 in the Air Force. In addition, there are some positions open in Paratrooper Battalions.
Women account for 3.75% (6,155) of the Hellenic Armed Forces total strength. There are 717 female officers and 5,438 NCOs, representing 2.6% of the Army personnel, 8.4% of the Navy, and 9.6% of the Air Force. The total number of active duty military personnel is approximately 162,300, of which 119,200 are conscripts. Greece has a reserve force of 291,000. The highest rank currently held by a woman is Brigadier General, of which there are three.
Nursing Officer School candidates must pass national competitive examinations and psychological and athletic tests before they are admitted to the school. Special recruiting efforts aimed at attracting women are not required for the Greek Armed Forces because the number of applicants is generally high. Officers are selected by general examinations while NCOs are selected by written exams. The management of annual exams given by the National Defence General Staff determines the number admitted.
Women are admitted to the Military Academies after they have
successfully passed Pan-Hellenic Examinations and have been
tested in advance on preliminary exams adjusted to the female
"nature". They are limited to 10% of the total number
of students and only allowed to serve in specific Logistic Branches
(Ordnance, Transportation and Supply, Technical, and Finance).
The women of the Hellenic Armed Forces participate in peace-keeping operations. There are currently 37 Army women (five officers and 32 NCOs) and two Air Force women (NCI's) serving in Kosovo.
Recent and Projected Developments
In 1999, for the first time ever, six women (one officer and five NCOs) were selected to sail aboard a ship for six months. The results of the mission were encouraging for women's future career prospects on the ships and new posts are now open for Navy women.
It is expected that from the year 2002, women will have the chance to enter the Air Force Academy as pilot cadets.
The enlistment of women has proven successful and is continually progressing. The staff development and research programmes concerning women in the Hellenic Armed Forces helped to achieve this progress.
Integration of women continues to progress in the support specialities, however, current law prohibits women from serving in combat arms branches.
National Co-ordination Office
National Delegate to the Committee on Women in the NATO Forces