Role of women in Indian Navy

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The Indian Navy has recently announced selection of two women officers as Observers in the helicopter stream, making them first women airborne combatants who would be operating from warships. The Navy had also inducted the first woman pilot in December last year.


Women in Indian Navy 

  • Prior to 1992, women officers were inducted in the Navy only in the medical stream from the Armed Forces Medical Service.
  • From July 1992, the Navy started inducting women, initially through a special entry scheme and later through the Short Service Commission, in only select branches of the Navy.
  • Over the years, various branches were added to the list, and currently women officers can join the Navy in the streams of Air Traffic Control, Observers, Law, Logistics, Education, Naval Architecture, Pilots in Maritime Reconnaissance Stream only and the Naval Armament Inspectorate.
  • It needs to be noted like in the Army and the Air Force, women are currently only inducted as Commissioned Officers and not in Other Ranks which are of categories of Junior Commissioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers.
  • In the early 2000s women officers from the Medical and Logistics stream were deployed on board Naval ships. While these deployments went on only for four-five years, they were discontinued for various reasons.


Women officers in new streams 

  • Last December, the Navy announced the induction of a woman officer as pilot of Dornier aircraft, which are fixed wing aircraft operating from ashore establishments.
  • Recently, the Navy announced induction of two women officers as observers for the helicopter stream. Observers are airborne tacticians who fly on board helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft operated by the Navy.
  • Till now women were inducted as observers for fixed wing aircraft which take off and land ashore. Entry in the helicopter stream means that women officers can now be deployed on frontline warships from which helicopters can operate.
  • In terms of various challenges towards deployment of women onboard warships, the logistics part is not as challenging as one would imagine, especially as most of the large warships of the Navy do have basic living arrangements that can be allocated for women.
  • The question of mindset and gender sensitisation, on the other hand, is something many believe would require concerted efforts, and concrete steps are being taken in that direction.
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