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6 Nov, 2023 14:54

India approves maternity, childcare leave for women soldiers

The move is part of the government's efforts to boost recruitment of females into the armed forces
India approves maternity, childcare leave for women soldiers

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday approved a proposal to extend maternity, childcare, and child adoption leave to all women serving in the armed forces regardless of rank. Previously only female officers were eligible for such benefits.

Now, however, all women in all three branches – Army, Navy and Air Force – will be eligible for such leave under the new rules, “whether one is an officer or any other rank,” the ministry said in the statement.

The move is in line with the Indian military’s vision of “inclusive participation of all women in the Armed Forces” and is expected to improve the work conditions of women in the military, helping them balance professional and family life “in a better manner.” The defense minister has always been of the view that “women should be at par with their male counterparts in every field,” the statement noted.  

The post by Singh’s office on X (formerly Twitter) highlighted that the extension of leave rules will go a long way in dealing with women-specific family and social issues relevant to India’s armed forces. 

The move comes amid the country’s push to create more employment opportunities for women in its military. Recently, India started accepting women in positions below the rank of officer under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme that seeks to recruit soldiers, called ‘Agniveers’, on four-year contracts. 

With the recruitment of women Agniveers, the Armed Forces will be empowered with the bravery, dedication and patriotism of women soldiers, sailors and air warriors to defend the land, sea and air frontiers of the country,” the government statement read.  

In July, the Defense Ministry, in yet another boost for women, modified rules to allow females to join the Air Force in both combat and non-combat roles. The Navy, which earlier this year began recruiting women sailors for the first time under the same scheme, will also implement ‘gender-neutral’ changes to promote inclusivity, according to Indian media reports. 

In 2019, women were also recruited to the Army as soldiers in the Corps of the Military Police, another move that has been termed a “milestone” by the government.