Though the entire Indian Armed Forces (comprising Navy, Army and Air Force) are male-dominated, the Indian Army fares the worst when it comes to gender parity among the three. In a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said that while women comprise 13% of the Indian Air Force’s workforce, they constitute only 3.8% of the Indian Army’s workforce. He also added that women comprised 6% of the Indian Navy’s personnel.
In the reply, Bhamre stated that women make up 21.63% and 20.75% of the staff in medical and dental services respectively in the armed forces. Also, all nursing officers in the armed forces are women.
The minister said,
“The induction of women into the Army is based on the organisational requirement, fighting efficiency, combat effectiveness and functionality of the force.”
Though both women and men are recruited in the Army as officers through Short Service Commission (SSC) exam on all-India merit basis, women are restricted to be inducted into only a few selected corps in the Army and serve on the frontlines.
Earlier, Bipin Rawat, who is the Chief of Army Staff, questioned women’s ability to lead troops in battle and said that it would be difficult to assign women in frontline combat roles. He reasoned that because most jawans come from villages, they may not be able to accept a woman officer leading them. He also cited ‘logistical hurdles’ behind putting women on the frontlines as the Army would have to “cocoon her separately” as ‘men may peep’.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha on January 8 that the central government was working to enhance the representation of women in the constabulary of paramilitary forces, with an aim to make CRPF and CISF have 15% women representation.