Surge of Women personnel in Indian Army
In recent years, India has been taking steps to crush gender barriers in its armed forces by enabling women to serve onboard submarines, in ground combat positions and tank units. We have women officers, but this is the first time women will be inducted as soldiers in the force.
In what is a historic moment in the Armed forces of India, Women are now allowed to apply for the PBOR (Personnel Below Officer Rank) category.
This event is going to create a surge in the female administration into the Military police. There will be an intake of 53 personnel each year. It’s a huge step towards further empowering women and improving their representation in our armed forces.
In February 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee announced that women will finally be allowed to take up combat roles in all sections of the Indian armed forces, signaling a radical move towards gender parity in one of the world’s most male-dominated professions.
Our Prime minister, on the last year’s (2018) Independence day had announced that women officers recruited into the armed forces under the Short Service Commission will have the option of taking up Permanent Commission. He had described it as a “gift” to the country’s “brave daughters”.
However, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said last year that the Army was not ready to have women in combat roles yet. “It’s because appropriate facilities have to be created for them,” he said, adding that a comparison with armies of Western countries cannot be made because they are “more open”.
The decks for the induction were cleared in January this year after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government has taken a “historic” decision to induct women in the military police with an aim to enhance their representation in the three services – Army, Navy and the Air Force.
With the IAF already training women pilots to soon fly fighter jets, the decision to induct women in combat roles in both the navy and the army will provide another opportunity for women to break the glass ceiling.
Currently, women are allowed in select areas such as medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Army.
The role of the military police includes policing cantonments and Army establishments, preventing the breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war and extending aid to civil police.
The extended responsibilities of those appointed in PBOR include investigation of offences such as rape, molestation and theft; military operations where the Army needs police assistance; assistance in evacuation of villages during cross-border hostilities; crowd control of refugees comprising women and children; frisking of women during cordon-and-search operations (mostly in Jammu and Kashmir); and ceremonial as well as policing duties. Besides this, PBOR personnel also run prisoner-of-war camps in conflict situations.
As per government data, the Army has 3.80 percent of its workforce as women, the Air Force has 13.09 percent and the Navy six percent.
The Indian Army on Thursday started their online registration and also put out an advertisement for recruitment in the Corps of Military Police. Online registration for the post of ‘soldier general duty (women military police)’ started on Thursday and the last date is June 8.
The armed forces are also in the process of identifying issues that could be faced in inducting women in combat roles and opening more avenues for them.