Women soldiering in Bangladesh Armed Forces
Soldiering is one of the oldest professions in the world. The women soldiering have also a rich legacy in the military history. The active participation of women in the wars is quite evident from the ancient wars of the world.
The Liberation War of Bangladesh is not an exception to it. The Bengali women have a notable contribution in the Liberation War of 1971. Our women responded equally to the national crisis of 1971 along with the men.
Captain Sitara Begum and Taramon Bibi were conferred with the honour of 'Bir Protik' for their outstanding bravery during the Liberation War. The nation remembers the valour, bravery and self - sacrifice of Bengali women in the Liberation War with high degree of gratefulness.
But, joining Armed Forces after a successful completion of vigorous formal training is a remarkable phenomenon. It is a new dimension of their profession and a milestone in women's empowerment in Bangladesh.
The role of women in Bangladesh Armed Forces for a long time, was limited to the medical profession i.e. doctors and nurses. In 2000, the doors were thrown open for women entry as regular commissioned officers in our Armed Forces for the special instruction of the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with a view to empowering the women.
Thousands of spirited young women applied against advertisements and it was a turning point in the history of time. These women chose a new field where they had to painstakingly pave a path for the others to follow.
Although the path these women of our country have chosen is tough, they have proved that they have the spirit, the courage and the will to carry on. A good number of female officers of Bangladesh Army are now serving in the Special Security Force, Army Aviation and Military Police Units along with other different Arms and services.
Thousands of female officers including doctors and nurses are serving in Bangladesh Army at present and working efficiently in different arms and services. A good number of female cadets are now undergoing training in Bangladesh Military Academy to be commissioned soon.
Hundreds of female officers of Bangladesh Air force are working in Meteorology, Air Traffic Control, Admin, Legal, Supply, Finance, GDP, Engineering and Education Branch. Besides, a good number of female officers are serving in Supply, Engineering, Electrical and Education branch of Bangladesh Navy.
Women are equally trained in our Armed Forces to the fight war against our adversaries. However, they are assigned with 'combat support' duties. They serve in many technical and administrative posts to release men for active duty.
They are setting new examples of undergoing all types of military training. Captain Jannatul Ferdous (now Major) has achieved the honour of being the first woman paratrooper on 12 February 2013.
Thereafter, a good number of female officers of Bangladesh Army could successfully be the paratroopers. Major Nazia Nusrat Hossain and Major Shahrina Binte Anwar have successfully flown their solo and dual flying in Cessna-152A as pilot of Army aviation on 28 October 2015.
In 2016, Colonel Nazma Begum, a female officer from Bangladesh Army has drawn the special attention of all while she was deployed in Ivory Coast and performing her duties as a Military Contingent Commander and the Country Senior.
She was nominated as one of the competitors for 'Military Gender Advocate of the Year-2016'. So far, more than three hundred female peacekeepers have successfully completed their UN assignment and currently a good number of female peacekeepers from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force are deployed in different UN missions.
It is worth mentioning that Flight Lieutenant Nayma Haque and Flight Lieutenant Tamanna-E-Lutfy of Bangladesh Air Force have been selected recently as the first ever female military pilots to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.
The momentous decision of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to recruit the female soldiers in Bangladesh Army was the mark of an epoch-making era. Accordingly, the female recruits of Bangladesh Army have joined different Training Centres and Schools and Honourable Prime Minister reviewed the parade and took the salute of the female recruits as the Chief Guest at the end of their arduous military training on 29 January 2015.
At present, thousands of female soldiers are serving in different units of Bangladesh Army while hundreds of them are undergoing training to be recruited soon. Similarly, a good number of female sailors have already been recruited to Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force has the plan to recruit soon.
It is now recognized by all that the women in uniform are the able co-workers in Bangladesh Armed Forces. The time is not far when we may use the term 'sisters-in-arms' as equivalent to 'brothers-in-arms'.
Our female officers and soldiers are found to be highly committed and sincere in their place of duty. Their courage, determination and enthusiasm are commendable. They are worthy of quickly adapting themselves to the military environment.
They want to be treated at par with their male colleagues so that they get a fair opportunity to prove their worth upholding their self-respect. Bangladesh is proud of the fact that women in Bangladesh Armed Forces are being treated in a manner befitting their dignity and self-respect. In this regard, Bangladesh can rightfully claim to have a record which is far better than that of any advanced nation in the world.
Women have played many roles in the military from ancient warrior women to the women currently serving in conflicts. Despite various roles in the armies of past societies, the role of women in the military, particularly in combat, is being more prominent in contemporary Armed Forces.
Increasing numbers of countries begin to expand the role of women in their militaries. It should now be commonly accepted in our country that women should be encouraged to join Bangladesh Armed Forces as our societal and cultural ethos have matured to the extent that barriers of gender prejudices are being vanished and both sexes are being adjusted to the desired level of mutual comfort.
Md Tariqul Islam, AEC is Major, Bangladesh Army