Defeating stereotypes, about 340 women have managed to get permanent commission as officers in Indian armed forces, according to the figures released by the Defence Ministry in the Parliament. A permanent commission is a license to serve the country till retirement.
Off the 60,000 women officers serving the armed forces, women number just 1,436 in Army, 413 in Navy and 1331 in IAF, a small display of ’Naari Shakti’ in otherwise male dominated force as per TOI report. Only about 0.5% of the women officers have been granted permanent commission, considering a total of 1.3 million serve our strong armed forces.
However, for women who have fought long legal and social battle to get accepted in forces, this sure is an achievement. “A lot of cultural and operational adjustments had to be made when women were first inducted in the 1990s. Some more are needed now to induct women in greater numbers,” said an officer as per a TOI report.
Combat roles for women in military operations as leaders or otherwise is still missing due to “operational, practical and cultural problems”. Women were only allowed to join armed forces as officers in early 1990’s after a years of perseverance. They enter as Short Service Commission officer to serve a maximum of 14 years which refrains them from flying fighters, serve on warships or join the infantry, armoured corps and artillery.
Women find it difficult to get PC even in ‘non combatant and combat arm support’ and are largely restricted to the judge advocate general (JAG) wing and Army Education Corps of the Army, and their corresponding branches in Navy and IAF.
The other wings where they can acquire PC are accounts, technical, administration, logistics and meteorology branches. In Navy, they can serve in the naval constructor department to get PC. Despite performing exceedingly well in flying high risk missions, they are considered incompetent for combat roles. They are opened to wings which does not involve ‘command and control’ of men and battalions.
The defence establishment usually dismisses any possibility of granting PC to women officers interlinking combat employability and PC. However, the armed forces will have to change their policies in the coming years to ensure gender equality in their ranks.
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