It is the endeavor of the Government to bring gender parity in all three wings of defence forces.
The Present Status
|Air Force||13.1 %||All branches, including Fighter Pilots are now open for women officers.|
|Army||3.8 %||Women officers will be granted Permanent Commission (PC) in the Indian Army in all the 10 branches where women are inducted for Short Service Commission (SSC).|
|Navy||6 %||All non-sea going branches have been opened for induction of women officers through SSC. Indian Navy will start inducting women in all branches, once the training infrastructure is in place.|
What is the historical background of the women in the armed forces?
- Freedom Struggle: It was Subhash Chandra Bose who organized an All-Women Contingent by the name of Rani Jhansi Regiment as part of the Azad Hind Fauj. One can argue that it was Mahatma Gandhi who saw the fighting spirit in women and inducted them massively in his non-violent but still combative freedom struggle.
- Forces: In terms of the post-independent armed forces the lead was taken by the IAF when in 1993 women officers were inducted in all branches as SSC Officers except in the fighter stream.
What are the positive implications of gender parity in the armed forces?
- Women Empowerment: more women in the armed forces would be another frontier of the ongoing efforts to ensure that Indian society emerges as a gender-empowered society. This has been the spirit of Article 14 of the Indian constitution as well as the SDG 5.
- Women Policy: the draft National Women Policy (2016) envisages inclusion of women in the governance and the decision-making structures. Women in the forces is surely a way to do that.
- Armed Forces Modernization: more women in the forces would enhance the combative and operational capabilities of India’s armed forces because both men and women have different abilities to offer. For instance women are psychologically more resilient and hence can be an effective contributor to the emerging fields of psychological warfare.
- Image of the Armed Forces: it would also help Armed Forces fight the negative perception in the context of human right violations such as instances of rapes in the conflict zone. More women would ensure that forces remain more sensitive to these issues.
- Women at the Workplace: it would also have spill-over effects in other fields of economy. If women can be in the armed forces surely they can break the ceiling glass in any filed.
What will be the challenges of more women in the armed forces?
- Work Culture: since armed forces have been so far heavily skewed in the favor of men it would be a challenge to ensure the gender-neutral work culture. Rather than segregated approach of male/female separation need would be of integrated approach.
- Training Infrastructure: tweaking the present training infrastructure to suit the needs of both men and women would also be a challenge.
- Promotional Aspects: ensuring that women are not discriminated in the promotions to the positions of higher responsibility can be a challenge.
- Social Behavior Change: especially among the families to encourage their daughters to join the defense forces can be daunting.
What more can be done to ensure gender-progressive armed forces?
- Awareness: sustained image projection by the armed forces and publicity campaign to create awareness among the young women on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career.
- Outreach: participation in career fairs and exhibitions, motivational lectures in schools and colleges are some of the ways to make an outreach to the women.
- Role Models: like from Rani Laxmi to Capt. Laxmi Sehgal should be included in the promotional campaigns to motivate women.
- Global Best Practices: of mature democracies and gender-progressive armed forces such as Israel/Norway/Australia should be studied and MoUs signed to enable personnel-exchange along the gender lines.
- Farm to Frontiers: If millions of Indian women can toil in the farms and ensure food security of the nation, they can surely fight at the frontiers and ensure the national security of India. Need is to continuously remind them of their fighting spirit just as Mahatma Gandhi did during the freedom struggle.
The slogan of बेटी बचाओ बेटी पढ़ाओ बेटी लड़ाओ can be the new mantra.