By Eshana Jain (Grade IX)
The Sanskaar Valley School, Bhopal
Not every woman is defined by tiaras, dresses, and heels; for some, it’s guns, a uniform, and combat boots.
Mythology is replete with instances of warrior women who were revered right from the Amazons of Scythia to the Kali in India, women have portrayed fierce qualities of warfare and conflict. Rani Lakshmi Bai to Joan of Arc, women across the globe show strength and vigor to fight for their cause.
Women in the Indian Armed Forces
Society is gradually moving towards becoming an egalitarian community, however, there is still this social stigma where women in the armed forces are considered unfit for combat roles. Women are currently only commissioned in the medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the army.
Although the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy do allow women in combat roles. In 2017, The Indian Army had announced that they will recruit women in combat roles. But, in November last year, Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat commented that the Indian Army is not ready yet to have women in combat roles.
With generally lower muscle mass and growth hormones, female soldiers are labeled as physically weak. Contrary to reports by numerous studies such as “Live Science”, that women exhibited about 40 percent less upper-body strength and 33 percent less low-body strength on average, women can still live up to the standard strength requirements put up by the armed forces.
In addition to this woman are biologically more capable of flying aircraft as they have shorter arteries in their neck, which aids in supplying oxygen faster to the brain as compared to men. With adequate physical training, emboldening and support women will surpass the stereotyped misconceptions.
Women can Perform as Good as their Male Counterparts
Out of the five big personality types – extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience; militaries prefer conscientious. Consciousness contains the quality of self- efficacy, orderliness, dutifulness, being resilient and having self – discipline, and cautiousness which are more common in women. more women also tend to be better are multi-tasking, stress management and have strong psychological abilities which are essential qualities while serving in this field. Also, women who volunteer are much more driven than males who have drafted. Certain sensitive and delicate jobs in the armed forces require intrapersonal skills and communicative skills which are highly developed in women.
Some male soldiers who have been brought up traditionally, have been taught to protect women at all times. Seeing them struggle during combat, they may falter and be emotionally conflicted which may distract them from completing the mission. Some men do not have the experience to work with women and may not know how to behave.
However, the armed forces have a strong judicial system and women have the full right an opportunity to let their voice be heard against any harassments.
Furthermore, warfare will happen under the ambit of technology, where the war will no longer be of strength but of technology. Both men and women can be trained effectively and equally to handle and command such modern warfare.
Women in the Armed Forces in Foreign Countries
The Israeli Army serves as a remarkable example in providing equal opportunities to both men and women. The Israel Defence Forces claim that nearly 50% of Israel’s lieutenants and captains are women. The compulsory conscription for both, men and women along with mixed – gender battalions in the IDF make a bold statement which aid in giving women the recognition and opportunities they deserve. Apart from the Israeli army, the Russian military also provides equal prospects to women. Currently, about 326,000 women are associated with the Russian military, including the 45,000 soldiers as well as the civil personnel in military universities, along with logistical and medical services.
Slow Induction of Women in the Armed Forces in India
The slow induction of women in the Indian armed forces is due to the logistical and infrastructural limits. India’s border is of varied terrain hence, building infrastructure in such terrain is going take a large number of resources and time. Also, the slow induction will aid in the adjustment of male soldiers who come from traditional backgrounds are apprehensive to work with women.
Nevertheless, the Indian army is working hard on incorporating women as soldiers. The Assam Rifles and the central military police are incorporating women as soldiers, and are giving hard training to them. With the large integration of women in the armed forces, there are certain issues arising in the army. Women involved in the medical, logistical, judicial and educational branches of the army; the JAK and AEC and more have received a permanent commission, however, the few women in the Ordnance Corps and other such service arms are yet to receive a permanent commission.
Lt. Col Reema Sobti, one of first 12 women to receive a permanent commission is currently posted in Kumbathang near Kargil stated, “To increase the number of women in the army, there needs to be a change in the mindset. People need to understand that now women are also physically and mentally strong like the men and if there can be women terrorists there can also be women soldiers”. She was commissioned in 2001 and was sent to the field for the first time to field in 2011, which showcases the apprehension of the Indian Army to post women in conflicted regions. She divulged into how more women could be incorporated into the army. She brought about new ideas such as emphasizing the need to be more government institutions exclusively for women like the military school, Sainik School and Rashtriya Indian Military College. She believes that such institutions will help in increasing the number of women in the Armed Forces.
So, the question arises, can women endure the physical and psychological rigors of sustained combat operations and are they willing to accept the attrition and medical issues that go along with integration? The answer can be seen in the valor, courage, and strength of all the women in the armed forces who have to constantly prove themselves to their male counterparts to be treated indifferently. Their constant struggle and achievements disregard all arguments made by misogynists.
Hence, proving all the misconceptions wrong, women are and will be an integral part of the Armed force. Women, if given equal chances to command frontline posts and serve their country from their very border, would only display great feelings of strength and patriotism similar to their male counterparts and help in moving towards glory.
Featured Image Source: The Week