scorecardIndian Navy took 26 years to get its first female pilot — may take even more time to get women on ships
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Indian Navy took 26 years to get its first female pilot — may take even more time to get women on ships

Indian Navy took 26 years to get its first female pilot — may take even more time to get women on ships
IndiaIndia2 min read

  • The Indian Navy got its first woman pilot, Lieutenant Shivangi, and first batch of female officers in the Naval Armament Inspection (NAI) branch in 2019.
  • The first female pilot was inducted 26 years after the Navy started inducting women as Short Service Commissioned Officers in selected branches of the Navy.
  • The Navy isn’t ready to take women to serve in ships primarily because they don’t have women-friendly ships.

This year, the Indian Navy got its first woman pilot, Lieutenant Shivangi in December. The first batch of female officers was also inducted into the Naval Armament Inspection (NAI) branch.

While it is good news, it should be pointed out that the first female pilot was inducted 26 years after the Navy had already started accepting women as Short Service Commissioned Officers in selected branches.

Armed forces, in general, have a very low proportion of women personnel. The Air Force has the highest share of women officers in India at 13.09%. Women’s participation in the navy is less than half of that with only 6% female officers. The Indian Army has an even lower proportion of women at only 3.8%.

Women officers in the Indian Navy
Even before 1992, women were allowed to be a part of the Indian Navy — but only as participants of the Short Service Commission.

After that, the Navy expanded its scope to permit women into other areas like air traffic control, education and training, meteorology, law, logistics and at observer units.

Circa 2008, the Navy revised its policies yet again to grant permanent commission of women officers but in selected wings. It was only In 2015 that the Supreme Court of India finally ruled in favour of the permanent commission of women officer in all Navy wings.

Today, the Indian Navy has women officers in eight branches including education, law and naval constructions. Yet, there is no presence of women on ships. According to the Navy, its ships aren’t “women-friendly”. as Navy says that its ships are the Navy isn’t ready to take women to serve in ships primarily because they don’t have “women-friendly” ships.

“Unless women, in good numbers, are ready to serve in ships, there would be no homogeneity and it would be difficult for women to serve in ships. The entire ecosystem has to be ready before women are inducted into the Navy. Future warships are being modified with 'suitable facilities' to accommodate women crew onboard," a top official told the Print.

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