WOMEN IN COMMAND ROLES
22nd January, 2023 Social Issues
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- About 108 women officers in the Army were cleared for the rank of Colonel by a special selection board, this will make them eligible to command units and troops in their respective arms and services.
- It will grant women officers parity with their male counterparts.
- Now with a long career in the Army, women officers will be considered for promotions, including to the rank of Colonel and beyond.
- Earlier only two branches; the Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch and the Army Education Corps granted permanent commissions to women in 2008.
- In 2020, the Supreme Court’s order to grant permanent commissions to women Army officers opened the doors for promotion to women officers across all streams of the Army, except pure combat arms.
Supreme Court orders:
- Supreme Court held that they are “based on gender stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women.
- It only shows the need “to emphasize the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army”.
- The SC has done away with all discrimination based on years of service for grant of PC in 10 streams of combat support arms and services, bringing them on a par with male officers.
- It has also removed the restriction of women officers only being allowed to serve in staff appointments, which is the most significant aspect of the judgment.
- Government argument screamed of the age-old patriarchal notion that domestic obligations rested only with women.
- Impact of Judgment:
- Women officers will be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers.
- It would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
- If women officers had served only as staff, they would not have gone beyond the rank of Colonel.
- In junior ranks and career courses, women officers would be attending the same training courses and tenanting critical appointments, which are necessary for higher promotions.
- A bigger shift will take place in the culture, norms, and values of the rank and file of the Army.
Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers:
- Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers who meet the minimum eligibility criteria are eligible for permanent commission posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.
- A Permanent Commission means a career in the Army till you retire.
- Under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme, women were commissioned into the Army for a period of 10 years, which can be extendable up to 14 years.
- However, Women were restricted to being part of selected streams such as the Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
- Women were excluded from combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
- At the end of 10 years of service, while male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission, this option was not available to women officers.
Women in Indian Armed Forces:
- All wings of the Indian Armed Forces allow women in combat roles and combat supervisory roles, except the Indian Army (support roles only) and Special Forces of India (trainer role only).
- Indian Air Force had 13.09% and 8.5%, Indian Navy 6% and 2.8% women, and Indian Army 3.80% and 3% in December 2018 and December 2014 respectively.
- Under the Army Act of 1950, women were ineligible for regular commissions except in "such corps, departments or branches which the central government may specify by way of notifications."
- In November 1958, the Army Medical Corps became the first unit of the Indian Army to grant regular commissions to women.
- Since 1992, women were first inducted into various branches of the Indian Army only in short service commissions.
- In 2008, women were first inducted as permanent commissioned officers in the Legal and Education corps; in 2020 they were first inducted in 8 more corps as permanent commissioned officers.
- As of 2020, women are not yet allowed as combatants in the Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army or other special forces, but they can join paratrooper wings of their respective arms like para EME, para signals, para ASC, etc.