The status of women in India has been undergoing a sea-change, supported by Constitutional guarantees to ensure dignity and equal opportunities. Their active participation in all walks of life including education, politics, sport, defence etc., has been growing. Several laws have been adopted to empower women socially, economically, legally and politically. Now days women are coming forward and joining Armed Forces rubbing shoulders with men in field.

The role of women in the armed forces for a long time, was limited to the medical profession i.e. doctors and nurses. In 1992, the doors were thrown open for women entry as regular officers in aviation, logistics, law, engineering and executive cadres. Thousands of spirited young women applied against advertisements and it was a turning point in the history of time. These women chose a new field where they had to painstakingly pave a path for the others to follow.

Currently, women in the non-medical cadre, serve as Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers. Under this type of commission, they can serve in the armed forces for a period ranging from 5-14 years. On release they can pursue a career in the civil sector. SSC officers are released with gratuity and can avail some benefits as ex-serviceperson, but they do not get pension.  Women in the medical branch i.e. doctors and nurses can serve as Permanent Commissioned (PC) officers and are eligible for pension after retirement. They also have the option to serve as Short Service Commissioned officers.

Eligible women, who qualify various tests successfully, serve as Short Service Commissioned officers in the following branches of the Armed Forces.

ARMY: EME, Signals, Engineers, Army Education Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, Army Service Corps, Intelligence and Judge Advocate General’s branch.

NAVY: All branches of the Navy (except submariners and divers).

AIR FORCE: Flying (transport aircraft and helicopters), Technical and Administration branches.

An Officer and a Lady

In the modern day of electronic warfare, it’s more about overcoming stress in warfare than physical combat. It has been proven scientifically that women handle stress better and are also mentally tougher. This is not to undermine a woman’s physical capability. Women have done extremely well in physical training as well. In the first few batches at the armed forces training academies women displayed more endurance and some even outran their male counterparts in cross-country runs and long distance marches. They carry on this tradition and keep setting new records.

As commissioned officers at the age of 22-23 years, they may often have subordinates older than their parents. Hence, from day one, it is a challenge and leadership qualities are under test. The color of their crisp uniforms and the stars/stripes they adorn differentiate them from each other. Despite the good quality of life, they may sometimes undergo hardships due to the nature of work. An officer may have to work in tough terrains or difficult circumstances. Most women however, who undergo training as cadets in various military academies, cope up with various difficult situations, easily. Being a transferable job, transfers and movements are seen as unique travel opportunities to travel to remotest locations in the country. Every Army unit is a mini-India with people and cultures as diverse.

The Road Ahead – It is universally accepted that induction of women in the services should be dictated by the level of technology, prevailing security environment and the nature of likely deployment. Availability of adequate number of male volunteers is another major consideration.

India should follow a graduated approach. Women’s expertise, talent and competence should be profitably utilised in areas which are totally non-combat in nature for eg Cybermatics, Telecommunications, medical, education, legal and logistics. both as short service and permanent commission officers.

Today large number of women are coming forward and want to contribute in National security and Armed Forces. They are taking up this challenge and are much less demanding considering the tough nature of their job.

Although the path these women have chosen is tough, they have proved that they have the spirit, the courage and the will to carry on. Presently, women do not serve in combat arms  but it won’t be long before these forbidden avenues are thrown open to them.

Written By

Col Pieush Agrawal,

Director  Edge Academy

Women Entry Schemes

Short Service Commission (Tech./Non Tech)

19 – 27 Yrs. Graduates / Post Graduates / LLB / Engineering CDSE Exam by UPSC
SSB Interview

Short Service Commission

19 – 23 Yrs Graduate (with phy & math at
10 + 2 level) or
B.E. – 4 yrs course
AFCAT written & SSB Interview
GDOC 20 – 23 yrs Graduate with minimum 60% AFCAT written & SSB Interview
TECH 18 – 28 yrs BE / B.Tech with 1st Division AFCAT + EKT written & SSB Interview
Direct Entry (Naval Architecture 19½ – 25 Yrs BE with min. 60 % of marks SSB Interview
Education Branch 21 – 25 Yrs Master in Phy / Math with 50% min SSB Interview
Law Cadre 22  – 27Yrs Degree in law min 55% marks SSB Interview
Logistic Cadre 19½ – 25 Yrs BA (Eco) Bcom, Bsc with 60% SSB Interview
Air Traffic Control Graduate with min 55% marks (PCM) SSB Interview