Morocco women join the military ahead of conscription drive
Tens of thousands of Moroccan women have volunteered to enlist in the armed forces after authorities decided to bring back compulsory military service.
The interior ministry said on Monday in a statement that 13,614 women between the ages of 19 and 25 signed up this month for conscription, which will remain optional for women and dual nationals.
The statement published by the state-run news agency added that 120,206 men had voluntarily enlisted for the year-long service.
Earlier this year, Moroccan authorities decided to reinstate compulsory military service, 12 years after it was abolished.
The law will come into effect at the end of the year.
The issue of compulsory military service is controversial in Morocco, where some see it as useful for young Moroccans blighted by unemployment, with almost 30 percent out of work in 2018.
Others view it as a way of steering young people away from protest movements, while Moroccan authorities insist their aim is to reinforce young people's "sense of citizenship".
Those who dodge the draft face between one month and one year in prison.