Representational image of female officers in Indian navy | YouTube
Representational image of women officers in the Indian Navy | YouTube
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Ahead of Navy Day, Admiral Sunil Lanba says all new ships under construction are being made to accommodate lady sailors on board.

New Delhi: The Indian Navy has decided to commission a study to examine ways to induct women sailors in the service, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said Monday.

“We are going to set up a study, which is going to examine this issue. And based on the outcomes of this study, we will decide what needs to be done,” said Lanba on the eve of Navy Day.

At present, women do not serve as sailors in the Indian Navy. Women Navy officers aren’t permitted on ships either and are posted ashore on duties.

While addressing the media, Lanba emphasised that the Navy is a gender-neutral service.

Enrolling of women sailors in the Indian Navy was discussed last month at the Naval Commanders conference.

Also read: Indian military divided on integration, but air force chefs are learning from Navy school

Facilities for women officers

There are over 600 women personnel in the Indian Navy, including medical officers and dental officers. Several women officers serve in indirect combat roles, such as observers and tactical operators on the armed maritime patrol aircraft — the P8I and the IL 38.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is also learnt to have pushed for greater enrollment of women while addressing the top naval brass at the three-day conference in November.

On Monday, Lanba said all new ships currently under construction are being made to accommodate lady officers on board. He said some of the existing ships too have such on-board facilities for women force, such as the Kolkata-class ships.

“The issue highlighted here was our training ships. They (the women) have to be trained to go to the sea,” he said.

“So once we have our training ships, which can accommodate and have facilities for our women officers, we will take women officers and put them at sea,” he said.

Also read: Indian Navy to get 56 new warships in next 10 years, including third aircraft carrier

Culture shock

The issue of inducting women sailors in the Indian Navy isn’t new, though. It was discussed ahead of last year’s Navy Day too.

Over the years, the conversation has seen little progress because of various cultural and operational issues. Prime among them is understood to be the apprehension of male naval officers, who fear that it could affect their career and promotion prospects due to women getting preferential treatment.

Naval experts also say that women officers on board could come as a big culture shock for male Navy personnel.

This is partly because many of them work bare-bodied on ships due to the heat from tropical waters and engine rooms, and sleep on hot bunks, where more than one crew member is accommodated to rationalise space.

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