Public Square

Women In Armed Forces

Across globe India is among few nations where role of women is negligible in society and workplace. Although the Constitution of India grants equal rights to females but no one could deny this that socially the ‘equality’ is not visible. And that it is also due to our culture and traditions which have larger and bigger impact on our lives than the laws of the land. Go back in Indian history or talk of present, women had faced and continue to face this kind of discrimination which has kept them back in most of the fields. India is an interesting case of gender bias and gender insensitive rules. This all has become a roadblock in the growth of women in various careers available to them in this country.

In India, we see many women fighting for ‘equality’ but strangely many among them get disapproved by their own families on such ideas. This example is of majority of ‘traditional families’ as very few females here are born in enlightened family where they get groomed in a manner where equality is given free to them and social obstacles are not a hindrance for them. This can be easily seen and found around us when we compare three generations of women and we find complete contrast mental attitudes. In past two decades, we have seen women slowly entering workplace. It reflects the changing social and workplace environment which is now evolving to accommodate females.

Earlier, workplace problems were in abundance all over the country and women had to fight to survive in traditional male bastions and male dominated careers. One such field has been the ‘uniformed services’ where women are negligible in any role across the country. To talk of police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) the representation of women as per national data is at 5.7%. Although females have started to join uniformed services, whether it’s Central Armed Police Organizations or Indian Police Services still it is seen as a non-traditional career for them by many parents. The question arises as to who is to be held responsible? Is it the society we live in where patriarchy comes in the way of equality or institutional attitudes right at the top or the women themselves who aren’t ready to exploit the opportunities available for them? While others continue to argue on this, I feel that woman should be allowed to serve in any role in the armed forces.

In 1888, during the British rule women started joining Indian Army when the ‘Indian Military Nursing Service’ was formed. And it took more than 100 years (as it was in 1992) to induct women in non-medical roles. Inspite of inducting women officers since 1992 at present women are just 0.56% of India’s 1.4 million army personnel which is the world’s second-largest military force. A lot is being said and done on this but nothing seems to have changed. However, few days back a game changing step was taken when the centre government told the Indian Supreme Court that it has now decided to induct women for permanent commission in the armed forces through the National Defence Academy (NDA). My observation says that if this goes in right direction then very soon we all would witness changed profile of women in armed forces. Rather, the truth is that gender parity could only come when countless women start wearing ‘uniform’ and men see all that with pride. Besides, this would be ultimate victory of our social system when we accept women breaching the male bastion!


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