“ANALYSIS OF GENDER BIAS AND ARMED FORCES”
Updated: Mar 14
This article explores the long-existing social norms specifically focusing on gender
discrimination. The research design is exclusive considering the wide scope of the concept. It includes the societal structure forming the base on the Armed Forces of the country. It
discusses the issue and how it affects society as a whole.
The article is formulated about the social perspective, Constitution, and judiciary. It also
includes a case study on the benchmark judgment of granting Permanent Commission to
Women in the Army.
A suggestive policy is accompanied in this article to bring forward the ideas to curb the social evils.
Keywords - Permanent Commission, Patriarchy, Constitution, Armed Forces, Gender
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of
the contribution of half its citizens.”
- Michelle Obama
India is a country growing rapidly economically as well as socially. The concept of open-mindedness is also being replaced with the pre societal notions. With the decriminalization of homosexuality, banning of Triple Talaq, and many other changes which couldn't have been imagined a few years ago are into existence but the practice of considering women lower than men still exist. The strong religious and social beliefs and preconceived notions which are deeply enrooted don’t allow gender discrimination to end.
Patriarchy is a phenomenon that exists everywhere in Indian society, from households in
urban and rural areas, in education, in the entertainment industry, day-to-day labour,
workplace, even the defense forces of the country. The Constitution of India states that there
should be no discrimination based on gender but it remains contradicted because of the
gender-biased laws enacted. Under Hindu law, a woman had no right in inheriting the
property and could not be a coparcener, which has been recently changed giving the right to
woman in the property. 1
GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND ARMED FORCES
It has been known that there is always a difference between the wage rate of men and women even when a woman may work for equal or even longer hours. The difference in wage rate doesn't depend on the efficiency, skills, hours of work, etc but solely based on gender.
Indian Armed forces in one such sector draw attention while referring to the bias of gender
through its permanent commission. The permanent commission in the army means to serve
until one retires. The earlier permanent commission was allowed to men only. Women were
first admitted to the army in 1992 through the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) where
they could serve for five years. Later in 2006, women were allowed to opt for Short Service
Commission (SSC) where they could serve for ten years extendable to fourteen. On the other
hand, men were allowed to opt for Permanent Commission which means they can serve the
army till they retire up to sixty years of age. Also, women were given restricted access to the
1 “Patriarchy and Permanent Commission in Army” BY LEXLIFE INDIA POSTED ON MAY 13, 2021.
streams in which they could serve and were not eligible to the government pension which is
only given after 20 years of service.
Thus a PIL was filed in 2003 seeking the grant of permanent commission to women in the
army. After considering all the challenges, Delhi High Court, in its judgment in 2010 granted
the access to opt for Permanent Commission to women, but the same judgment was
challenged in Supreme Court by the government. In February 2020, the Supreme Court
passed a landmark judgment granting access to permanent commission to women in the
CASE STUDY ON THE BENCHMARK JUDGMENT
The much laudable and eliminating the gender discrimination, in the case of The Secretary,
Ministry of Defence Vs Babita Puniya & Ors 3, the Supreme Court ordered the grant of
permanent commission and providing equal opportunity for women in the Indian Army.
The judgment of the Delhi High Court, granting the permanent commission was challenged
by the Government. Though favorable, the judgment was not implemented by the defense
The arguments made by Government, considering women unfit for the grant were,
motherhood and psychological limitations; pregnancies; difficult physical conditions and
lastly, the All Men Environment wouldn't respect a woman officer.
The arguments of the Government were all rejected and SC believed that they were “based
on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which
discriminate against women.”
The Supreme Court also said that it shows the need “to emphasize the need for change in
mindsets to bring about true equality in the army.”
The judgment eliminated the restriction to the ten streams establishing the equality between
males and females. The promotional opportunities and training at par with men resulted from the verdict.
2 “Judgment on PC in Army to Women”. LIVE LAW.
3 2020 SCC ONLINE 200.
4 Apex Court made the statement.
After the verdict providing the grant to permanent commission removing the gender barrier in the army, there is a lack of execution and understanding in the implied sense. In Lt Col.
Nitisha and others v. Union of India 5, the appellants challenged the procedures and general instructions laid down by the army for women for the selection to the permanent commission. The women officers of the age group of 40-50 years were required to be at par with the male officers of the age group of 25-30 years in terms of medical standards. The court held that the Army's selective evaluation process discriminated against and disproportionately affected women officers seeking a permanent commission. 6
It can be stated that the road to a gender-neutral society is quite long and the deeply
embedded stereotypes cannot be eliminated in a day and need constant work for the
The Constitution of India strongly advocates provisions of equality before the law and equal
protection of the law.
After analyzing the gender stereotypes and discrimination in the country, along with the
reference and study of the gender bias in the Armed Forces, the following suggestive policy
- The strict and sound implementation of the judgments and laws formulated and their
- Spreading awareness by educating the citizens of Women's right and empowerment.
- Acknowledging and appreciating the role of women in every place, be it households
and the workplace.
The concept of a progressive society moving forward by breaking the pre noticed
stereotypes are not something that can be achieved suddenly but a thrive to achieve a gender- a neutral society where every human has the freedom to work and survive as per their terms is a constant battle to be fought for.
REFERENCE: WPC 1109 OF 2020.
6 Army’s evaluation process affects women seeking permanent commission: Supreme Court, THE HINDU.
March 25, 2021.
Gender equivalence values have to be instilled amongst the people and in a nation like India
with a strong foundation and an ironclad constitution that advocates a non-discriminatory
society; it can be an easy task. Masculinity should not be a factor but caliber, skill, and
efficiency should be the factors affecting qualification. Patriarchy is a longstanding issue that
has claws in all aspects of life but with proper legal roles, and awareness it can be crushed.