Women have played an extraordinary role
The International Women’s Day is celebrated across the globe on 8th March every year to recognise the achievements of women without divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
The International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe on 8th March every year to recognise the achievements of women without divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
It provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress made, to call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determination by those women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and regard to communities. The theme of International Women's Day 2020 is, 'I am Generation Equality: Realising Women's Rights'.
Empowerment of women has a special significance in strengthening and consolidating women's position in our society. We are nation where women empowerment has been imbibed in our culture for centuries.
In modern day context women empowerment demands strengthening women's position in the existing social, economic, political and security architecture.
This requires creating new opportunities and capacities for women so that they can participate in effective significant manner in the functioning of our society. Providing conducive environment for women's empowerment has to be our collective goal, mission and ambition.
The targeted outcome of such empowerment is supposed to be the creation of an atmosphere where women feel safe and secure to pursue any profession or vocation of their choice. Women should play decisive roles in the family and society equally with their male counterparts, so that any question of discrimination or deprivation does not arise.
When it comes to women, security is typically conceived in terms of physical safety and security and not beyond. However our Government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has added many new dimensions to address women's issues and taken a more holistic view of things.
The Government of India, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, gives utmost importance to the women empowerment and strives to provide them with equal opportunities as their male counterparts.
For our government women empowerment is not a slogan but a comprehensive programme that deals with five components of security: health security of the mother and child, social security, financial security, security of the future through educational and financial programmes through growing up years, and last but not the least, the physical safety of women.
Security and Defence have been considered and acknowledged as male bastions for ages but our Government is committed to change this perception forever.
During my tenure as the Union Home Minister, I made special efforts to increase the number of women in our police and paramilitary forces. The MHA had issued advisory to all state governments to reserve 33 percent posts in their respective police forces.
In line with the Government's vision, Ministry of Defence has taken a slew of initiatives to increase women participation in various departments and field operations.
Many people may wonder what role women – the weaker section of the two – can play in the armed forces. The resounding response was given by thousands of women officers by their unique contribution in various services and arms of our armed forces.
This vindicates our government policy that all avenues and opportunities available to men in our armed forces should be thrown open to the women also.
"An equal world is an enabled world". This philosophy should propel the entire globe to move in the right direction to create a gender equal world.
Women officers have been serving in the armed forces for about 80 years and have served with competence and distinction. The role of women has been increasing steadily in the field of national defence.
Women are employed in Defence Production Units , Defence Research & Development Laboratories and in the Armed Forces. With the induction of women in various branches of the Armed Forces like flying, logistics and law, a larger role is envisaged for them.
Empowerment of women in the Armed Forces has been a major focus area of our government over the past five years and many of such interventions are first time initiatives.
ln 2019, 3.89% of the army personnel comprised women, while 6.7% of the Navy and 13.28 % of the Air Force personnel respectively were women. Before 2016, women made up just 2.5% of lndia's Armed Forces.
The proposal for induction of women in Corps of Military Police in Indian Army as soldiers was approved by the Government last year to recruit a total of 1,700 women Military personnel.
Steps like increasing tenure of women officers in SSC from 10 to 14 years and improving their promotional prospects in Army have been taken to increase participation of women in the Army.
The International Women's Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate certain shining examples of individual officers who have proved that women officers are second to none when it comes to fighting for the security of our nation. Very few would know that Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal was the eyes behind the Balakot airstrikes as fighter controller.
She was conferred with the Yudh Seva Medal for her stellar performance during the operation that taught an unforgettable lesson to the enemy.
ln May 2019, Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth became the first woman pilot of the lndian Air Force to qualify to undertake combat missions on a fighter jet. She completed her operational syllabus for carrying out combat missions on Mig-21 Bison aircraft during day time.
She is from the first batch of woman fighter pilots of the lAF. This year Army Officer Tania Sher Gill led an all- male contingent of the Corps of Signals in 71st Republic Day Parade. She also led all-men contingents during the Army Day function for the first time, creating history.
We our government has thrown open the windows of Sainik Schools for girls. As a historic step in the annals of Sainik schools , admission of girl students commenced in Sainik School, Chhingchipp (Mizoram) in Academic year 2018-19 as a pilot project.
Admission process for another 5 Sainik Schools namely Kalikiri (Andhra Pradesh), Kodagu & Bijapur (Karnataka), Gorakhal (Uttarakhand), Chandrapur (Maharashtra) has already started.
Our government has also decided that all the Sainik schools will extend admission to girl students from the Academic session 2021-22 onwards.
There has been a substantial increase in enrolment and representation of girl cadets in NCC to 33.72 % in 2019 from 25.4% in 2014. The total enrolment of girl cadets in NCC is around 4.54 lakhs (2019). An additional 33,000 girl cadets to be enrolled in senior wing under self financing scheme from the year 2020.
Nearly 650 additional posts for Girl Cadet lnstructors (GCl) for facilitating training for girl cadets has been sanctioned for recruitment over next five years against the present strength of 255 GCls
For the first time ever around 10,000 girl cadets will be sent for attachment with the three services- army, air force and navy from 2020 onwards.
A large number of women officers were commissioned in AFMS over the last 4 years. The percentage of women Medical & Dental Officers under AFMS Cadre is around 23%. And there is hundred percent representation of women in Military Nursing Services (MNS) Cadre.
Never before in the history of independent India women officers were given the opportunity to serve the country as Defence Attaches.
Now two women officers, Wg. Cdr. Anjali Singh, (lndian Air Force) and Lt. Cdr. Karabi Gogoi (lndian Navy) have been posted as Asstt. Attache in the Defence wing of Embassy of lndia in Moscow, Russia.
Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) established with a vision to empower India with cutting-edge indigenous defence technologies and systems, has been according equal opportunities for enhancement of their skills and fulfilment of their potentials.
This has resulted in many women scientists having top positions in DRDO. The people would be surprised to know that some of the leading missile scientists today are women.
The year 2018 saw the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe, Navika Sagar Parikrama, by an all-women crew. INSV Tarini success was the completion of the first Indian all-women circumnavigation of the globe.
The expedition depicted 'Nari Shakti' on the world platform and helped discard the societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India by raising visibility of their participation in challenging environs.
Also, the indigenously built 56-foot sailing vessel, INSV Tarini showcased the 'Make in India' initiative on the International forum.
We can safely say that women in our armed forces over the years have excelled in all fields and proved that they stand second to none. They are marching ahead shoulder to shoulder along with their male compatriots to conquer new frontiers and my best wishes to them.
The economic and social empowerment of women is another significant step which our government has taken in the past seventy months. There have been several initiatives and decisions which benefited women.
Mudra Yojana is one of schemes which has laid the foundation of economic empowerment of Indian women. Women entrepreneurs have been the major beneficiaries of the Centre's Mudra scheme. They have cornered about 75 per cent of the total disbursals under the Mudra Yojana scheme.
The Government is moving in the right direction, but I do believe what is really required in our country is far more awareness and creation of new opportunities.
This awareness comes out of education. Programmes like 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' have made a huge impact on our society. It has not only helped in improving the sex ratio but also created awareness among the people.
We need to keep on reminding ourselves about the contributions of women, about their strengths. India has come a long way in empowering women but many milestones are yet to be crossed.
'Stree Shakti' is an integral part of our 'Rashtra Shakti' and without strengthening our 'Shakti' we cannot aspire to be a 'Shaktishali Bharat'.
(The author is Defence Minister, Govt. of India)