Our armed forces our something which we are all proud of. From guarding the borders to protecting against intruders to safeguarding the citizens during times of war or natural disasters, the army does it all. A few decades back, the army was inaccessible for women. It was only after 1992 that women were allowed to join the army. Back then, there was a huge gap in the ratio of men to women, whether it's the army, navy or air-force.
But with passing years, the mentality changed. More women started to join the army and have become so significant now that they have become its leading face, it's pillar of pride. Even on the Republic Day of India, the army march is now headed by women, which is indicative of the scale of women empowerment in the nation. In continuation with this, President Pranab Mukherjee last year announced that women will be allowed to take up combat roles in all sections of the Indian armed forces. Many of these women have served at many significant positions in all the three sections of the army. Let's take a look at 8 of these incredible female officers in the armed forces which are making the nation proud-
1. Sophia Qureshi
A Lieutenant colonel and the first woman officer to lead an Indian Army contingent at a multi-national military exercise, Sophia Qureshi is the first and only woman leader amongst 18 participating contingents in the largest ever foreign military exercise “Exercise Force 18” hosted by India.
2. Gunjan Saxena
Known as the Kargil girl, Gunjan created history when she flew her plane in the combat zone. This female air-force pilot flew her Cheetah helicopter to rescue injured soldiers in combat zone during the Kargil war. She picked up the dead and the wounded, while escaping Pakistani gunfire and missiles from below which itself requires great determination, courage and extra-ordinary piloting skills.
3. Priya Semwal
Priya was the wife of a martyred Indian Army Jawan who died during a counter-insurgency operation near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2012. Left broken by it, the 26 year then mother of a 4 year old girl decided to join the army to pay tribute to his husband and his love for the motherland.
4. Nivedita Choudhary
Flight Lt Nivedita Choudhary became the first woman from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to scale world’s highest peak Mount Everest. Co-incidentally she also became the first woman from Rajasthan to achieve this feat. “The one hour I spent on world’s highest point etched my name in history. It will always be the best moment of my life,” she says with a smile.
5. Divya Ajith Kumar
Captain Divya Ajith Kumar first caught everybody's attention when she lead the women contingent consisting of 154 officers and cadets combined during the 2015 Republic Day celebrations when the then US president Barack Obama was the chief guest. In her early years, she joined the National Cadet Corps, and from there she was inspired to join the army. She teaches at Officers Training Academy in Chennai and travels to schools and colleges to encourage students to consider going in the armed forces. In 2010, Kumar became the first woman in the history of the Indian Army to receive the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ prize, which is awarded to the best cadet.
6. Priya Jhingan
She created history by being the first female cadet to join the Indian Army. She was enrolled as 001 on September 21, 1992. She was so determined to join the armed forces that after completing her graduation, she wrote a letter to the then Chief of Army Staff, requesting him to let women join the army. A year later, along with 23 other cadets she also joined the army. She served the nation for 10 years in the armed forces and describes every day of her in the army as a dream.
7. Ganeve Lalji
Lieutenant Ganeve Lalji, a young intelligence officer, has the distinction of being the first woman to be appointed as a key aide to an Army Commander. A third-generation Army officer, Lt Lalji was commissioned in the Corps of Military Intelligence in 2011 and later in 2013, after a rigorous selection process, she was selected for the coveted post.
8. Mitali Madhumita
Lt Col Mitali Madhumita became India’s first female Army officer to have won a gallantry award for saving at least 19 lives during the February 2010 terrorist attack in Kabul. The officer was in a nearby guesthouse when she got the information of the attack on the Indian facility. She rushed to the spot, running the 2km distance and on reaching there, personally extricated several Army officers buried under the rubble.
The zeal and energy of these female officers showed us how we can emerge with brilliance after successfully and honestly competing with our hardships. And now they are an inspiration for many generations to come.