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By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO :
New Delhi : Army Spokesperson Col Aman Anand said the government order paved the way for empowering of women officers to shoulder larger roles in the Army.
The Ministry of Defence issued a formal letter granting permanent commission (PC) to women officers in the Indian Army, on Thursday, in eight more branches of the Army, following the Supreme Court directive in February, which “will empower them to shoulder larger roles” in the massive 13 lakh strong force.
Col Anand said the 10 streams where the permanent commission of women officers are being made available include army air defence, signals, engineers, army aviation, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps and Intelligence corps in addition to the existing streams of judge and advocate general and army educational corps.
This long-awaited battle to break gender stereotypes had to be fought right up to the highest level, in the Supreme Court to provide equal opportunities for women in the Army. This is a cause for celebration. It will go a long way in ending a bias linked with the Army. This fight wasn’t easy, it was long and extended, as the government initially glossed over a Delhi High Court ruling in the litigants’ favor 10 years ago. Then in the Supreme Court, just what the litigants were up against became clear from the views of the government. About 322 women officers had approached the apex court on the issue of PC and the issue of command postings came up in the discussion on subsequent avenues after the grant of PC. In its appeal, the government cited “physical” and “physiological limitations” in granting command positions to women offers, to which the Supreme Court said there was a need for an administrative will and “change of mindset.”
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In February, the Supreme Court read the government the riot act, asking it to abide by its policy on granting permanent commission to women in the SSC and giving them command postings in all services other than combat.
A 54-page judgment called out the misogyny and the Supreme Court noted that women officers of the Indian Army had brought crowns to the force. “The time has come for a realization that women officers in the Army are not adjuncts to a male-dominated establishment whose presence must be ‘tolerated’ within narrow confines,” it said
The Indian Army has always been second-guessing about the abilities and power of their women force. As of 2020, women are not allowed to serve in combat units such as Infantry, Mechanised Infantry, Armoured corps, and Artillery. They also cannot board warships and submarines in the Navy. Women total to just 1,600 in the 43,000 strong officer cadre in the Army. The long wait is over, the glass ceiling has been shattered now after the court directive to end gender bias in the force.
The mindset needs to change, there can be no doubts about this since women have time and again proved valuable assets of the Indian Army and long before armies existed when they so diligently fought their own battles in both the private-public domains. We have all grown up listening, reading, and celebrating stories about strong Indian women such as Begum Hazrat Mahal and Rani Laxmi Bai, who fought back fiercely. Women have undeniable strength ignored because of their biological anatomy, cultural beliefs, and societal norms.
Hopefully, this step towards ensuring gender equality and women’s upliftment in the Indian Army proves in our best interests.
Compiled and Curated by Maham Abbasi