Just a day after Nirmala Sitharaman took the charge as Defence Minister, the Indian Army announced that it will recruit 800 women cadets as jawans (army police) for the first time in history of 1.3 million-strong Indian army!

The idea of recruiting women for ‘non-officer’ combat roles in Indian Army has been in pipeline since long, but it is now put into action – just a day after India’s first full-time Defence Minister took charge of her duty. Indian Armed Forces is one of the strongest army with a manpower of 1.3 million soldiers – both men and women, but here too, men dominate in numbers with a ratio of 30:1. Women are often recruited in Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, but when it comes to land forces, only 3500 women are part of it and they were only recruited as ‘army officers’ rather than jawans – until now.

The Army has announced on Friday that women jawans would for now be recruited solely to the military police, starting with a batch of 800 to which 52 women jawans will be added every year. It is a big step in curbing the gender biases in armed forces and women will actually help in protecting the nation rather than just selected roles in medical, education, legal, signals and engineering wings, and only as officers. Women army police force will be deployed as army police and not for combat duties yet, but they can be helpful in tackling women protesters and CRPF posts.

This will be India’s first step towards getting in line with other contemporary developed nations when it comes to roles of women in armed forces. It will also boost the aspiration and potential of women who are willing to work and fight for the nation – the offbeat tough women of India.  It will be a huge step which will say buh-bye to gender biases and welcome the importance of strength, courage, aspiration and gut rather than gender. Jai Jawan!