Published: 19th September 2017
As the Ministry of Defence mulls over recruiting women for combat roles, these women officers are all for it
The armed forces have always been thought of as a man's job, but with the Indian Army mulling over recruting women in combat roles, senior female officers see a progression towards women empowerment
With the Ministry of Defence thinking of inducting women in combat roles, retired female officers see it as a major stride made towards women empowerment and urge young women to make the most of the opportunity. Kozhikode Express talks to a couple of women officers.
Colonel Susheela Nair, who served in the teaching and administrative departments of the Indian Army from 1985 to 2000, says, "The move will help bring more women out of their shells. It will prompt them to take up challenging roles."
According to her, the lack of support from the family is a barrier that prevents women from joining the army.
There is a general misconception that if a woman joins the defence, she will not be able to manage household chores and also look after her children. Women have to face antagonism not only in the family but also at the work place
Col. Susheela Nair, Indian Army
For Susheela too, the road to the army was not a smooth one. "I decided to join the army in an era when women were even barred from riding a scooter. It will be great if combat roles are opened up for women. It will give us a chance to prove ourselves, " she said.
At present, women are commissioned in the education, legal, medical and administrative branches of the army.
Usha V, who retired from the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme Hospital, Westhill, in 2008, says, "The decision to include women in combat roles will definitely boost our confidence." Currently, countries like Germany, US, Canada, UK and Israel recruit women in combat roles.
"We should reach a stage where the enrollment of women into combat roles shouldn't come as a surprise. The decision to recruit women for combat roles should have been taken years ago," says Sandhya P M, an army medical officer from Kozhikode. She is currently posted in West Bengal.
Sandhya wanted to join the army since childhood. "It was the uniform that attracted me first," she says. "Women who are adventurous and raring to explore the world will definitely come forward. But there are many who get scared and show reluctance to undergo rigorous training. Such inhibitions should be wiped off," she adds.
According to Sandhya, if one has the will to do a task nothing can stop them from excelling in it. "I have seen women excelling tough training regime even during their menstrual cycle. If a 38-year-old like me can get into the army, then it will be a cakewalk for an 18 or 19-year-old," she adds.