Women in India are breaking stereotypes in all sectors. Why should defence be any different? Three women have proven that even the sky is not the limit for ones who dare to challenge convention. Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi are India's first female combat aircraft pilots.
The trio is an inspiration to every woman in the country where jobs are divided on the basis of gender. The trio was commissioned as flying officers in the Indian Air Force in June 2016. They went on to fly the British Hawk advanced jet trainers at an IAF facility at Kalaikunda in West Bengal. Today, these women are all set to fly the supersonic Sukhoi-30 jets. They are expected to finish their training in September.
The women volunteered for the fighter stream after the government ended a rigid gender-based combat exclusion policy in October 2015. The women are part of a batch of 40 flying officers training on Hawks at the Kalaikunda air force station. Their commissioning into the Indian Air Force was a historic moment for India. Their induction was looked at a huge leap in ensuring total gender parity in the armed forces.
Bhawana, the daughter of an IOC engineer and homemaker mother is from Bihar. Avani also hails from a similar background. Mohana is an army kid. Her father is serving in the Indian Air Force while her grandfather was a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre.