Parrikar pitches for gender parity in armed forces

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Hyderabad: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said that the ministry was working towards bringing about a “total gender parity” in the armed forces. Parrikar was responding to questions from media-persons at the Air Force Academy where he inducted cadets into the Indian Air Force earlier in the day.

The defence minister clarified that recruitment of women in the armed forces was not “need-based”, instead the move was aimed at bringing about “total gender parity”. However, he maintained that there are certain difficulties which will be dealt with. “While I say this, there are some technical, administrative difficulties in certain areas. So, step by step, we will see that this parity is achieved,” he said.
Parrikar explained that the number of women in the armed forces will depend on factors such as infrastructure. Describing the inducting of women officers in a combat role as a decision which has “almost” been made, he said.
“I do not see any reason why the government order (of inducting women officers in combat roles) will not become permanent and the multiplication (of women cadets) takes place,” he said. The government, the defence minister said, will overcome difficulties step by step. “In certain cases, the submarine has to be designed to take both the genders because the space availability is very less so they have to designed in a particular manner. There are common bathing and other facilities. So, there there will be some sort of difficulty,” he said. Parrikar described the graduation of the first woman fighter pilot trio – Mohana Singh, Avani Chaturvedi and Bhawana Kanth – as a “red letter day”. He said that the move would witness more such women officers in the future.
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