Taiwan’s military on Tuesday unveiled plans to give women the opportunity to volunteer for reserve force training for the first time, as China continues to ramp up military pressure on the democratic self-governing island.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it will allow 220 discharged servicewomen to enroll in training starting in the second quarter of this year.
Allowed to. Gen. Yu Wen-cheng of the ministry’s All-Out Defense Mobilization Agency said the move will be on a trial basis this year.
Taiwan’s defense ministry previously said it only trains male reservists because it doesn’t have sufficient capacity for both sexes.
Taiwanese lawmakers had declared that excluding women from reserve training would amount to gender discrimination.
In December, Taiwan announced it will extend the length of conscription for all eligible men from four months to one year starting in 2024, and the requirement applies to men born after 2005.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Taiwan has an armed force of about 170,000, mostly made up of volunteers, while also training about 120,000 reservists annually.
Men between the ages of 18 and 36 must either volunteer for military service or complete compulsory reserve service.
However, after their release, they are asked for training recalls four times over a period of eight years.
As of 2021, women made up 15% of Taiwan’s military but serve mostly in non-combat roles, according to the CIA Factbook.