For the first time, women in India can attend the best military college in the country. The Supreme Court ruling this month allows women to rise through the ranks of the world’s second largest army. It marks a big step towards gender equality.
Lt. Gen. HS Panag told VOA that the decision to allow women to attend India’s National Defense Academy “is a good first step and something that had to happen as women seek more. the roles in the military all over the world.
The National Defense Academy is a difficult four-year program. Women have so far entered the military through a shorter 11-month training program. But the shorter program does not allow them to climb the ranks. This also limits their working life to 14 years most of the time.
In September, the Supreme Court ruled that women were now allowed to take the exams necessary to enter the academy. His decision came after a public hearing petition argued that excluding women from college violated the constitution, which prevents discrimination based on gender.
Women make up only a tiny fraction of the 1.3 million people in the Indian military. They represent just over 0.5% of the army, 1.8% of the air force and 6.5% of the navy. Although women may advance to the same ranks as men, their combat roles in the military will be restricted.
At the Supreme Court hearing, the government argued that there were many things that limited a woman’s ability to serve in the military, such as “motherhood, child care and psychological limits.”
The judges criticized the government for what they called “regressive mentality â€towards women in the military.
The Supreme Court criticized the military for being slow to allow women. Last year, a court ruling allowed women to take command positions unrelated to combat. The government had argued that women should not occupy these positions because of their inferior physical capacities.
Akanksha Khullar is a researcher at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. She said: â€œPolicymakers opposed the entry of women into military colleges because of a patriarchal mentality, that’s why it only happened after the court decision intervention. “
The move towards gender equality in the military may still take time. Women worked in the armed forces mainly as doctors, nurses, engineers and lawyers.
Panag said that women who meet the same physique standards that men should be allowed to serve in combat roles. Only a few countries, including Australia, Germany, Israel, and the United States, allow women to fight.
Some women who have served in the Indian military say that equality in combat roles will be a slow process.
Sajita Nair joined the military in 1994. She said she was happy that women finally had the chance to attend the military academy. She said it would give women the chance to build full careers instead of leaving after 14 years, as many have had to.
“It paves the way for them to advance to leadership positions,” Nair told VOA. “We have women who are so capable and they should have the opportunity, and then of course it’s up to them to prove themselves.”
I am Dan Novak.
Anjana Pasricha reported this story for Voice of America. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashly Thompson was the editor.
Words in this story
role – nm the role someone has in a family, society or other group
petition – nm a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something
psychological – adj. a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something
regressive – adj. return to a previous condition or condition and usually worse or less developed
patriarchal – adj. cultures / societies controlled by men
to intervene – v. get involved in something (like a conflict) in order to influence what is happening
Standard – nm a level of quality, workmanship, etc., which is considered acceptable or desirable