New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has recruited its first female fighter pilots, paving the way for more women to be given combat roles as one of the world’s biggest military forces takes steps towards greater gender parity.
Flying Officers Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi received their wings on Saturday when they were commissioned into the IAF at a graduation ceremony in the southern city of Hyderabad.
“It is a golden day as for the first time these women are going to join the fighter pilots,” Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said at the ceremony.
“This will inspire more women to take up the most challenging task in the armed forces. Our long-term objective is to work towards gender parity in the armed forces.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated the women, saying it was “a matter of immense pride and joy” to have the first female fighter pilots. “More power to them,” he tweeted. Only a handful of countries such as Britain, the United States, Israel and neighboring Pakistan, have allowed women into the cockpits of fighter jets.
India had until now kept women out of that role, and away from frontline warships and ground combat, citing concerns over their vulnerability if captured and their physical and mental ability to handle the stress of such deployments.
22/06/16 Reuters/Al Arabia