The ministry of defence has marred all hopes of seeing women in the Indian army. In response to a question brought up in Lok Sabha, the ministry said,“There are no plans of raising any all-women regiments or battalions in the Army in the near future.” “We will be inducting women in the Navy as pilots from this year and are trying to bring the role of the women in the tri-services at par with their male counterparts,” the response said.

Last month, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had said that they will be recruiting women jawans in the Corp of Military Police as a first step towards inducting them in combat roles.

“There are no plans of raising any all-women regiments or battalions in the Army in the near future.”- Ministry Of Defence

TOI spoke to some serving and retired women officers who opined that all-women regiments would have indicated Army’s seriousness about inducting women in combat role.

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Lt Col (retd) V Gupta, a woman officer who served in the Army for 17 years told TOI, “The first step towards introducing women to combat roles is a permanent commission for them and then having a few all-women trained units which can be allotted specific tasks. The authorities concerned should have the foresight to understand that in the future, there will be a requirement of all-women battalions if the Army wishes to seriously field women on the front.”

A few Army officials, on the other hand,  acknowledged that raising separate women battalions might be an “operational necessity.”
“In a society like India, it is essential that women have separate regiments especially if they have to be recruited as jawans so that there is a segregation of sexes. Recruiting women as jawans will also mean that we would need more training centres and better infrastructure but rather than suddenly giving them combat roles, it is better to train them from the recruit level”, said a serving major.
At present, women officers in the Army are deployed in support arms like the Judge Advocate General (JAG), Signals Corps, Army Supply Corps, Education Corps and Medical Corps. Infact, no country has all-women battalions currently for combat operations although paramilitary forces in India like CRPF have three mahila (women) battalions which are deployed in counter-insurgency areas.
Deployment of an allwomen regiment in the army could have consolidated the cause of women empowerment by debunking myths related to women’s strength by giving them the opportunity to prove their mettle in this field.
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