“I think there should be more women in the armed forces,” Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday while attending a felicitation ceremony pitched for women empowerment. Noting that women have achieved great heights in all spheres, now they should have greater representation in the armed forces. She said, “I think there should be more women in the armed forces,” while addressing Armed Forces Medical Services’ International Women’s Day Celebrations at the Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt.
While addressing a function on ‘Women in Uniform of Armed Forces Medical Services’ (AFMS) in New Delhi the minister said, “Debate about empowerment should not always be a gender-based argument, whether an individual can perform being a woman or a man. Therefore, the whole narration on Women’s Day is to look at it in this context,”
Speaking at the event, Ms Sitharaman called upon women to grab every opportunity coming their way. However she said “blanket rejection” of males or females should be completely avoided.
Further, she said, “I think there are areas in which men should be posted, not so much to fight them, but for making them understand that well you may not be good in this you may be good at something else. So blanket rejection of male or female can completely be avoided. That’s why I think whenever we talk, it should be citizens ‘ empowerment.”
She acknowledged that Women achievers in India are part of a very different environment. Further, she pointed out that a number of women have achieved great heights in their area of specialisation but such examples were not sustained.
Three of the distinguished veterans of the AFMS, including the first woman Air Marshal, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, Vice Admiral Punita Arora and Lt Colonel Farida Rehman were felicitated by the minister at the event organised to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
Air Marshal Bandopadhyay, retired Director General of the AFMS, spoke about her journey with the forces. She shared how from being a Tamil-speaking arts student she became a doctor with the armed forces. Also she threw light on her subsequent rise to the highest rank of the Indian Air Force. She asserted that there was no gender discrimination in the IAF.
Currently, around 1500 women doctors and dentists along with 4600 women officers are part of AFMS. They are serving in combat and peace locations in India and abroad.
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