//Army shortchanging women officers

Army shortchanging women officers

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, June 22, 2006

The army would like you to believe that there is no gender bias within its ranks. But its lady officers have a different story to tell. They say there is discrimination — and it shows on their salary slips.

A lady officer who has put in 12 years in the army is on a lower pay scale than her male counterpart with six years service. And different pay scales are applicable to male and female majors. This has led to resentment among lady officers who feel they have got a raw deal.

A female major, who joined the army in 1994, says: “The rank is merely symbolic. We don’t get the benefits. Leave aside granting us the substantive rank, the army doesn’t even treat us like acting majors. We continue to draw the rank pay of a captain. Allowances and increments are calculated on the basis of the lower pay scale.”

The starting basic pay of a major is Rs 11,600 and that of a captain Rs 9,600. A major’s rank pay is Rs 1,200 and a captain’s Rs 400.

“Even after 10 years of service, I draw a captain's salary. But as a major I am expected to take on additional responsibilities. The whole thing smacks of discrimination,” says another lady officer.

Lady officers say the recommendations made by the AV Singh Committee make it clear that an officer should be granted the substantive rank of a major after six years.

But women in the army are yet to get lucky — despite a notification issued by the Ministry of Defence in November 2005, which says substantive promotion shall be extended to all short-service officers (men and women) as applicable to permanent commissioned officers.

The IAF has been granting substantive rank to female squadron leaders (equivalent to majors) for sometime now.

Sources in the army say measures are being taken to remove the disparity and the issue will be resolved soon. However, the army’s public relations office remains silent on a written query by the Hindustan Times.

The lady officers are not too sure of a positive response. They say they had recently approached the adjutant general’s branch and the military secretary’s office, but have not got a response yet.

A lady officer says, “Many of us have voiced our grouse up the chain of command. We perform the duties of field officers, but get lower pay scales compared with our male counterparts.”

Lady officers, who are nearing retirement, regret that they stand to gain little as the army has wasted precious time in granting them the substantive rank.