The supreme constitutional court has found no career advancement discrimination took place against female non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the National Guard, according to a statement released Tuesday.

In a statement, the attorney-general’s office described the recent judgment of the top court, delivered on February 20 this year.

A group of female NCOs had previously taken recourse at the administrative court, claiming they had suffered gender-based discrimination in that their male counterparts had been promoted faster through the ranks, despite having equal qualifications as them.

The administrative court ruled against the plaintiffs, who later appealed the decision with the supreme constitutional court. After hearing the appeal, the top court recently upheld the initial ruling.

Summarising the judgment of the supreme constitutional court, the attorney-general’s office – representing the state as the party being sued – said male NCOs are granted additional points due to their compulsory military service as conscripts in the National Guard.

These points, the court said, are given as an offset because males are unable to enroll on the list of NCO appointees at the same time as females, precisely due to the fact their compulsory military service as draftees delayed their enlistment as NCOs.

Therefore the extra points awarded to males should not be construed as a “reward” for their normal service as NCOs. Rather, the points act as an offset to this particular disadvantage that males have.

The female NCOs had argued that the fact they did not receive the corresponding points as their male colleagues constituted a violation of the principle of equality, effectively amounting to sex-based discrimination. They said the points system was skewed in favour of males, giving the latter an unfair advantage in promotion through the ranks.

But the court rejected this argument, pointing out that in this case the male NCOs did not receive the extra points for seniority because they are males, but because they had served as draftees in the army – something they could not avoid. And this compulsory military service (as draftees) is in the public interest, “a view recognised by both domestic and European jurisprudence”.

The case concerned 195 women who joined the National Guard in 1993, 1995 and 1997 but remained in lower ranks than those for which they were qualified.

While some female officers had since been promoted, they were still outranked by their male counterparts.