Role of Women in Armed Forces

  • IASbaba
  • October 20, 2021
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Oct 15: Role of Women in Armed Forces – https://youtu.be/R0Te6oN7blY 


  • GS 2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions (Judicial Overreach Vs Judicial activism)
  • GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Role of Women in Armed Forces

In news:  India has taken a number of steps to strengthen the role of women within the security setup in general and the armed forces in particular. 

Government has taken evolutionary path to ensure equal participation of women in Armed Forces.

  • Indian Army, Air Force and Navy began inducting women as short-service commission (SSC) officers in 1992. This was the first time when women were allowed to join the military outside the medical stream. 
  • One of the turning points for women in the military came in 2015 when Indian Air Force decided to induct them into the fighter stream. 
  • In 2020, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the central government to grant permanent commission (PC) to women officers in the Army’s non-combat support units on par with their male counterparts. 
  • In March 2021, the Indian Navy deployed four women officers on warships after a gap of 23 years. 
  • Two months later in May 2021 Indian Army got its first batch of 83 women soldiers, in the Corps of Military Police. 
  • From 2022 women will also be able to join the premier tri-service training institute, the National Defence Academy.

Challenges in bringing women officers at par with their male colleagues

  • Though women officers are now allowed as pilot of fighter jets and leader of battleships but women officers in Army are not inducted in army’s infantry and armoured divisions, due to fear of getting caught by enemy and torture. In Israel, too, women are mostly deployed in the military police and perimeter security rather than in actual combat.
  • It is claimed that male troops, who are predominantly drawn from rural backgrounds, may be unwilling to “accept” a woman commander.
  • Concerns are raised over physiology, motherhood and physical attributes of women officers.
  • The differences in conditions of service for women officers and their men counterparts is perceived in favour as well as, against them. The women officers have concessions in physical standards during recruitment, in battle physical efficiency tests.
  • Women officer appointments need extra considerations to hygiene, sensitivities and privacy issues while accommodating them. In Siachen, there are posts with only four soldiers. They sleep and share the same cramped post.
  • Male officer’s tenures in difficult field stations have increased, in adjusting women officers for spouse postings, child care leave.

The Way Forward

  • Certain concessions given to women officers can be withdrawn, and they can be put through the field and rough appointments with troops, to be at par with male counterparts and be accepted as ‘Leaders’ and not ‘Appointed Officers’.
  • The selection for command assignments has to merit-based irrespective of gender.
  • The selection for the command should be done through officer’s confidential reports and closed promotion board, common for both genders, and the names and gender of the profile should be hidden from selection board

More importantly, a behavioral change is the need of the hour.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Are we witnessing a major shift in the way women’s participation in the armed forces is perceived? Critically examine.

For every frontier touched or broken by women that frontier should be sustained with more and more women. Discuss

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