SC Rules Women Officers Must Be Allowed to Command Army Posts
Women officers in the Indian Army should have access to command positions and receive permanent commissions, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Currently, women in the army are limited to short-service commissions (10-14 years) as opposed to permanent commissions available to the male officers. Permanent commissions grant male officers the ability to serve until they retire. Women officers are also not allowed to command army posts — another laurel believed to be one of the top honors accorded by the Indian Army.
The latest SC decision is a welcome respite in the back-and-forth surrounding women’s participation in the military — recently, advocates for the Centre government argued army men from rural backgrounds wouldn’t accept a woman’s authority as a reason not to grant women officers commanding positions.
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Shutting this argument down, the SC said in the latest ruling: “Time has come for a realization that women are not adjuncts to male counterparts whose presence has to be just tolerated … To cast aspersions on women based on gender is, in fact, an affront to the entire army where men and women are equal. To deny grant of permanent commission on these stereotypes represent deeply entrenched biases. True equality in army must be brought,” News18 reported.
In the Centre’s appeal against the inclusion of women officers, advocates also brought up the matter of physiological differences between men and women, as a way to demonstrate the army is no place for a woman; they also threw in a couple of arguments against women’s role in combat, stressing their limitations due to motherhood and childcare.
The SC responded that these arguments perpetuate unfair gender stereotypes; the government’s mindset regarding the inclusion of women in the military must change, the court added.