The defence forces are one of the last surviving bastions of male dominance in the times we live in. But in a revolutionary move, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat told the PTI that the Indian Army will soon embrace gender integration in combat- paving the way for women to take up combat roles in the military.
Gen Rawat said that the process for the same is already underway, and women will initially be recruited with the military police.
This is an important step as women were hitherto confined to medical, engineering and educational spheres in the defence forces.
Their inability to participate in combat has been a major hurdle in promotion within the ranks.
With this initiative, India joins a group of a precious few countries where women are allowed to participate in combat- Germany, Israel, Denmark, the USA, Canada and Australia to name a few.
The case for women in combat has been heavily debated for a while now, citing physical incompetence, logistical issues, psychological complications arising from heterosexual men and women in close proximity, and the risks associated with enemy nations taking women soldiers as Prisoners of War.
Many of these arguments, however, are based on empirical evidence and stereotypes rather than verified facts, and thus stand challenged. Meanwhile, Gen Rawat's statement comes as a resounding blow to the glass ceiling, and the opportunities of growth for women in the Indian armed forces will be greater than ever.
About time, we'd say!
Title image: pinterest