Will have to do same tasks as men: Army chief Rawat on combat role for women

Women officers march during the Army Day parade in New Delhi. (HT File Photo)
Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday said it was for women to take a call on serving alongside male soldiers in tough conditions and be a part of close combat roles.

Rawat said equal opportunities bring equal responsibilities to stress that women would have to operate in the same challenging conditions as men. He said a tank crew sleeps under the tank during the night and there are no separate toilets or accommodation.

“You have to see society as whole. I have said that if we induct women into combat role, they will have to share equal responsibility like their male counterparts because equal opportunity must come with equal responsibility. Which means that they will have to perform exactly the same task,” he said addressing his first annual conference after taking over as Chief of Army Staff on December 31.

He said soldiers are also required to go on long patrols that can sometimes stretch up to 35 days.

“Now at night, when you halt, all that happens is a blue sheet is pulled out and everybody sleeps on it together…If women are willing to move out in that environment, they need to take a call. Once they are willing to take this call, we will address this issue,” he added.

He said rather than thrusting it down, one has to look at the society and think.

While women are inducted into the Corps of Engineers and Signals, they have been left out of the Infantry, Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry.

The Air Force has already inducted women into the combat role but are not likely to post them at forward bases.

The navy has allowed women to fly all aircraft not operating from an aircraft carrier since they don’t have separate facilities on board as of now. However, future ships are being designed keeping in mind that women may join them on board.

(With inputs from PTI)

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