New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the women officers will soon command army units and battalions following being accepted for permanent commission.

“Our approach to the induction of women in the police, central police, paramilitary and armed forces has been progressive,” Singh said.

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 “We have taken the evolutionary path of moving from support to combat support and thereafter to combat arms within the armed forces,” he added during his address at a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation webinar on Role of Women in the Armed Forces.

Singh said the women have always been and will always remain equal contributors within the armed forces in India.

“And this fight cannot be won by half the population of our region or of a country. Women have and will remain equal contributors in this fight, both within the armed forces and beyond them,” he said.

Referring to former prime minister Indira Gandhi and former president Pratibha Patil while mentioning women who reached the helm of Indian administration, the Defence Minister said the women reaching higher ranks within the armed forces came as no surprise.

“It, therefore, comes as no surprise that a number of women have reached the rank of lieutenant general and equivalent within the Indian armed forces, leading their men and women under the most challenging conditions,” he said.

Stating the women had proved themselves in every field and excelled in the duties assigned to them, Singh said many barriers have been broken and added many more imagined barriers should break in the years to come.

Highlighting the role of women in the Indian Military Nursing Service for more than 100 years now, Singh said that the country was amongst the oldest to induct women into its armed forces.

The Defence Minister said the women are now being accepted for permanent commission and shall be commanding army units and battalions in near future.

“I am happy to share with you that from next year, women shall be able to join our premier tri-service pre-commissioning training institute, the National Defence Academy,” he added.

Asserting that the role of women should be recognised and reinforced in all spheres of security and nation-building apart from their role in the armed forces, Singh pointed to the role of women in the navy, the coast guard and the UN peacekeeping missions within the services.

The Defence Minister said that India’s approach has been progressive towards their induction into these services.

“We have found that the process of induction, given its broad-based and progressive path, has also simultaneously prepared the society and the armed forces for this change. This is an important aspect to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” he said.

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Stating the women will be able to join India’s premier tri-service pre-commissioning training institute National Defence Academy (NDA) from next year, Singh said the armed forces are preparing to induct women into the NDA following a landmark Supreme Court verdict.

The Defence Minister further said that terrorism is a common threat to the countries under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

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