Skip to content

Women in the Armed Forces – a lost dream

March 27, 2010

I had a secret ambition during my high school days; an ambition which was fuelled by war movies Border, LOC Kargil, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, The Guns of Navarone, Haqeeqat etc and serials like Sea Hawk and Arohan. I was enamoured by the glamour and the prestige associated with the armed forces and as years progressed, I became more and more determined to join the defence services. Finally, after going through numerous internet articles, brochures, newspaper ads etc, I zeroed on a career in the Indian Air Force. My initial dream was to join the Flying Branch, but that was dashed to pieces just because women are not allowed in a combative role. 

The first hurdle posed to me was the difficulty level of the test. Going through the conditions and the rigorous test schedules, I felt any other competitive examination would look like a cake-walk. I had the requisite physical attributes (height, weight and eyesight) and was willing to give my best shot in the test 😉 I never spoke about it much then, since I felt the time was not right to shock my poor parents and others by my choice of career. So, while my parents took it for granted that I would be going for a career in medicine, I was happily day dreaming about my life in the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad. 

The next hurdle was the fact that I am a woman, trying to gain entry into an extremely male-dominated field. A lot of exciting options like the Flying Branch were closed to me. The few friends in whom I confided, tried to dissuade me by citing examples of the gender bias and discriminations faced by women in the army. Articles to the same affect were doing rounds in the internet, too. But the stubborn tomboy in me had already decided to battle it out hard.

Third, and the most important obstacle for me was the fact that women are allowed entry only in the Short Service Commission. I realised that after about 14 years, my career will be finished and I will be left with nothing. I also looked at options that people take up after the SSC, but none of them appealed to me. I had already made compromise in the choice of Branch, but this short tenure of service was a factor which posed the biggest question mark.

Precisely for the last reason, I was forced to shift my attention from armed forces towards something different and equally challenging – like law 🙂

Just before my campus recruitment, when recession has hit my law school just like the rest of the world, and job prospects became bleak. I focussed on Armed Forces again. This time, I toyed with the idea of JAG (Judge-Advocate General), the legal branch but again gave it up due to the reason of Short Service Commission and also due to the reason that after 14 years, my years as JAG would do nothing to my legal career.

Recently on 12 March 2010, the Delhi High Court in a landmark decision directed the Indian Air Force to allow the lady officers to be eligible for the Permanent Commission status. [Read news here]

This judgment has been long-awaited and hopefully will encourage more and more women to join the armed forces. Now, no woman dreaming of making it one day to the armed forces, will opt out due to gender discrimination, like I had to.

Now, I have crossed the upper age limit for the armed forces examinations. Moreover, presently I am fully ensconced in a professional career in law. Armed Forces is now just a lost dream for me. 

womenarmedforces

Advertisements
8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2010 8:31 pm

    I would salute all those brave women who are in the track of choosing their careers in Army/Navy/Air force, that too, in this age of globalisation driven consumerist corporate world where Information and communication technology takes most of the cream.
    Yea, the judgement is quite welcome and more amendments are needed in defence domains to open up the gates for women.
    Though it is bit disappointing that you couldnt catch the dream ship, all the best for your career in law. So, one gud lawyer in the pipeline.
    * I do empathise what it takes in comprising with our passionate careers. It is tough.

    • debosmita permalink*
      July 14, 2010 5:41 pm

      I literally jumped up with joy when I read the judgment. However, recently I read that Air Force is quite forthcoming with its implementation, but Army is still resisting it!

      • Andrea C. permalink
        November 2, 2012 12:38 am

        Can you message me your name? I have your picture, but I need ypur naem for a project on Rememberance Day.

  2. Prasad permalink
    July 14, 2010 1:21 am

    That’s a nice article!! and I am just goin thro your other blogs too.. Just a couple of concerns I have here.

    “My initial dream was to join the Flying Branch, but that was dashed to pieces just because women are not allowed in a combative role.”

    It requires a lot of training and combat experience, bcoz our Su-30 MKI fighter jet costs around $35 millions. Even our men has a lack of experience and it’s a risk to recruit female pilots. (Even in Russia, women are not allowed since the Sukhoi jets are highly agile and maneuverable)

    “The next hurdle was the fact that I am a woman, trying to gain entry into an extremely male-dominated field”

    Do you know a fact that female snipers are a lot better than the male counterparts? Because it requires a lot of patience, focus and maternal instinct. Even India has a decent number of female snipers. The places where the Indian army fights has a lot of extreme environments. e.g Rajastan, Kashmir.Females cannot stay in these places as they dont have proper bathrooms, staying there with same cloths for weeks. The torture of POWs will wrench the guts, for even tomboys like you.

    “The few friends in whom I confided, tried to dissuade me by citing examples of the gender bias and discrimination’s faced by women in the army.”

    Are they from army? gender bias and discrimination is everywhere.. men need face this too!!

    But still you can be a part of army. You can join as a lawer in Army or Navy.

    Fighting in army is not just with guns. There are a lot of things you can fight in army.

    My last opinion is, “Females create a life”. You can fill up the next phrase with whatever!!

    • debosmita permalink*
      July 14, 2010 7:02 pm

      Welcome to my blog. That was one insightful comment and I agree to most part of it. However, I was young (in school) and obviously did not have much sound advice to help me with. Combine it with the fact that I do not know anybody from the defence who would have guided me.
      Women face discrimination everywhere. I am right now in quite a male-dominated profession. But women have made their mark everywhere despite the hardships involved and Indian Armed Forces would have been benefitted if they gave women the opportunity. They are reluctant to implement the ruling and is planning to go in appeal against it.

      • Prasad permalink
        July 15, 2010 12:03 am

        “But women have made their mark everywhere despite the hardships involved”

        Achieving something or making mark has made by a lot of people irrespective of gender. The ‘hardships’ need to be crossed by every being to achieve something. But we boast ONLY about women!!

        Opportunities for women are already given. There are lot of females as Medics, Corporals, Lt. Generals, etc., There are women officers who never shot a single bullet in combat. Lot of men who crossed 40’s are still pawns carrying rifles and rotting in borders.

        “Indian Armed Forces would have been benefitted if they gave women the opportunity. They are reluctant to implement the ruling and is planning to go in appeal against it.”

        As per my knowledge,
        1. Women can’t do close-combat fights, where the hormones doesn’t have killer instincts and the lack of analytical nerves.
        2. Women are best in defensive operations where the patience and strategy is used.
        3. No where in army, navy and air force has mentioned about gender preferences. Women has undergone training for fighter jet pilots in Russia, where their body and skeletons couldn’t withstand the pressure and agility developed inside the cockpit. It might cause bleeding from bodily vents.
        We should give priority to our safety and protecting lives. Not to insert something like “women can do everything” here.

  3. July 27, 2011 7:34 pm

    Liked your article very much and it reminded me of a day when I was thirteen when I had to take a note to our physics teacher at school. I walked in the lab and the teacher was sat surrounded by teenage boys and they all turned round and stared at me in a really hostile way. I gave him the note and scurried away like a frightened rabbit but I wish I had brazened it out instead. No one said you couldn’t but it was just an unwritten law in our school that girls didn’t do physics. It’s a shame that as girls we had to face such stupid restrictions.

    • debosmita permalink*
      July 27, 2011 7:40 pm

      Thank you and welcome, Mrs. Bongle 🙂 I can totally understand the situation that you described. A girl can’t play cricket in the local playground, can’t wear shorts while taking part in sports, can’t shout, can’t laugh loudly and if she does any of these, people will glare at her!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: