If I tell you to imagine an Armed Force soldier in your mind, then the picture that will arise in your mind will definitely be that of a male soldier. But why is this?
Our society never considered women to fit for the Armed Forces-she was considered to manage the household, look after children etc. India is a democratic country, where equality on the basis of gender and sex is part of its constitution.
Let me tell you how much gender equality actually exists between males females in our Armed Forces.
If I talk about present times, there are just 9,949 female officers in the Indian Armed Forces. I would start with the time of 1888, India was under British rule. Indian women began joining the Indian Army when “Indian Military Nursing” service was started by the British.
Between 1914-1918, the British Indian Army nurses fought in World War I and between 1939-1945, they fought in World War II, working tirelessly in service of our nation.
However, this is not a real condition of women in the Military. So, let me take you to the laws that should be made equal for men and women in the Armed Forces and how for years women were made deprived of many resources in the Armed Forces.
Having been commissioned in July 2018, Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Bhawana created history by becoming India’s first three female fighter pilots.
Finally, in February 2019, the government passed an order to open more streams for women to get permanent commissions. However, there are some restrictions as well. This opportunity would be given only to those female officers who have not yet completed their 14 years in service. Also, more importantly, women would not be allowed to take commanding positions.
The Supreme Court rejected all the objections of the defence ministry and accorded an equal status for both male and female officers in 10 different streams of army forces. The right to be considered for permanent commissions and right to occupy commanding posts will be given to female officers, ‘but only in the non-combat field’.
So, even now, we can say that there is no true equality between male and female officers in the Armed Forces. Why are women not allowed in combat positions in the Indian defence forces? This issue has raised many questions worldwide, including India.
Some years ago, the Indian government said that they were against recruiting women in armed forces because it is “difficult as per prevailing social norms (because of the wrong mentality of society)”. Is this a fair reason?
Also, an unofficial reason for this question was given that if women are allowed in the top positions in the Armed Forces, then people in positions subordinate to her might not take her seriously.
How shameful is this! On one hand, we talk about saving girls, educating them, (beti bachao -beti padhao) but when the actual turn to empower women comes, then we backtrack , putting forward such futile excuses. It is due to this backward mindset that the progress of female officers in the Indian Army has been observed to be so slow over the years.