Today, the role of women in the Indian Armed Forces is not just limited to medical profession i.e. doctors and nurses but they also serve the nation as Service Corps, Ordnance Corps, Education corps, Judge Advocate General Branch, Corps of Engineers, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Aviation Corps and Corps of Army Air Defense. Presently, women along with men are recruited in the Army through Short Service Commission (SSC) on all- India merit basis.
In recent years, Indian women officers had proved themselves as the powerful weapon for the Armed Forces. There are some instances given below:
- In 2017, three women Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh made history as they were selected as first women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF) after the government made decision in 2015 to allow women to take on new roles. On 18 June, 2018 the first batch of women fighter pilots was inducted in IAF.
- On 21 May, 2018 a six women crew of the sailing vessel INSV Tarini became the first Indian all women crew to successfully circumnavigate the globe in 254 days.The vessel was skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprised Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi and B Aishwarya and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, and Payal Gupta.
The expedition known as Navika Sagar Prikrama had started on September10, 2017 in Goa was aimed at promoting women empowerment aligned with Government of India’s thrust for Nari Shakti.
- In July, 2018 India became one of the few countries globally to allow women in combat role in the Army which is an exclusive domain of men. This was seen as a major breakthrough for women in Armed Forces as this was the first time women were inducted as soldiers.
Presently, women constitute 3.80% of the Army’s workforce, 6% of the Navy’s personnel and 13% of the Air force’s workforce. They make up 21.63% and 20.75% of the staff in medical and dental services respectively of the Armed Forces. And all the nursing officers in the Armed Forces are women.
Despite the increasing participation and success of women in all the three Armed Forces, there are certain challenges ahead which are as follows:
- The Indian Navy is set to open doors for increased role of women as sailors, non- officer cadre but there are no combat positions for women in the Indian Navy.
- The most fearful challenge is Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and its effect on the physical and mental well -being of women combatants.
- The medical challenges of women combatants
As with every challenge there comes an opportunity to prove oneself, so the significant rise of women power in the Indian Armed Forces will not only encourage young women of our country to be the part of our defense sector but will also build a strong Armed Force for our country.