On Monday, Feb 17, according to Al Jazeera, India`s top court ruled that women could serve as army commanders, signaling a move towards gender parity in the traditionally male bastion.
Row of female soldiers. / Photo: Pixabay – Reference image
The Woman Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro
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"The time has come for a realization that women officers in the army are not adjuncts to a male-dominated establishment whose presence must be 'tolerated' within narrow confines," the court said.
"It is an insult to women as well as the army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the army," it continued. "Women are not the weaker sex and they should be treated on par with men officers in Army in non-combat services."
By doing this, the court dismissed a government statement saying that male soldiers were not yet prepared to accept orders from female officers since they were not "mentally schooled" to do so.
"Women officers must deal with pregnancy, motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families and may not be well suited to the life of a soldier in the armed forces," the central government stated as well and argued that women and men were physically different and could not be treated equally.
Actually this has been a central argument in the Indian army to resist the entrance of women in combat roles, citing concerns over women's vulnerability if captured and over their physical and mental ability to cope with front-line deployments.
The Court found these arguments disturbing and judges said during their ruling that "to cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army."
Currently, women are inducted through a short commission that lets them work for up to 14 years, but with this new ruling they will get the same opportunities and benefits as their male colleagues, "including ranks, promotions, and pensions and be allowed to serve longer tenures", stated Al Jazeera.
"This change will lift up women, not just in the army but all girls across the country and the world," said Lt. Col. Seema Singh to reporters after the court ruling according to CNN.
Aishwarya Bhati, a lawyer who represented female officers at court, celebrated Monday's judgment and said it was one that would remove discrimination and boost women's role in the army. "They have completely negated all the farcical stands raised by the army to deny women equal opportunities," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "These battles are watershed moments not just for women in the Indian army, but for women across the world."