Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat has said that the Indian Army is open to inducting women in combat roles.

“We have already started the process,” General Rawat told PTI.

Before they were permitted to join as officers from 1992, women could only serve in the medical and nursing branches of the Indian Army. But even after 1992, there were restrictions on which branches they could join. Women officers currently serve only in the aviation, logistics, law, engineering and executive cadres of the army.

Data from 2015 says that only around 5 per cent of the total staff in the Indian Army presently consists of women. Of them, 4,224 are serving as doctors and 1,436 are in other technical branches.

The Indian Navy also does not permit women to serve in combat roles presently. However, in 2016 the Indian Air Force inducted three women as fighter pilots.

If the Indian Army does open its doors to women in combat roles, it wouldn’t be the first. Multiple countries already allow women to serve in combat roles. While it isn’t clear how many posts will be opened for women in the Indian Army, here’s a look at the five nations with the most number of women serving in combat roles in their armies:

While Canada has the most number of women serving in combat units, Israel has the highest percentage of women serving in combat units.

Source: Websites of respective armies.

Vrinda Sehgal is an intern with ThePrint.

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