In the last few years, India has witnessed unprecedented reforms targeted at empowering girls and women. The Government of India continuously introduces new policies and revises existing ones to ensure inclusivity in the defence sector. A few days ago, Shri Rajnath Singh, the present Defence Minister of India, approved a proposal to grant maternity, child care, and child adoption leave to women soldiers, sailors, and air warriors on par with their officer counterparts. In this post, you will get to know in detail about the revised maternity benefits for women in the armed forces. Read on to learn more about the maternity benefits that female soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces will receive.
In a nutshell, women soldiers in the Indian Armed Forces will now get the same maternity leave and benefits as female officers receive. With the issuing of the rules, the grant of such leave to all women in the military, whether one is an officer or any other rank, will be equally applicable.
Currently, the women officers get maternity leave of 180 days with full pay for each child, subject to a maximum of two children.
Childcare leave of 360 days is granted in total service career (subject to the child being less than 18 years of age) to women officers.
Child adoption leave of 180 days is granted after the date of the valid adoption of a child below one year of age.
Existing Legal Provisions for Women Officers (Now PBOR will also get the same)
The maternity benefits that were earlier applicable to women officers will now be applicable to the persons below officer ranks (PBOR), which means to the females of the non-officer category.
(i) Maternity Leave: Woman officer of the Army – Rule 56 of Chapter-IV of Leave Rule for the Services Vol. I-Army, Fourth Edition.
(ii) Child Care Leave: Woman Officers of the Army – Rule 56A of Chapter-IV of Leave Rules for the Services Vol. I-Army, Fourth Edition as amended vide GOI MoD letter dated 19 Nov 2018.
(iii) Child Adoption Leave: Woman Officers of the Army – Rule 56B of Chapter IV of Leave Rules for the Services Vol. I-Army, Fourth Edition.
Details on Recruitment of Women (PBOR) Before Introduction of the Agnipath Scheme
As per a report by PIB (Ministry of Defence) on 21 March 2022:
Female candidates were inducted only in the officer ranks in the Indian Navy.
The recruitment of airmen cadre in the IAF was carried out only for male candidates.
Provision for enrolment of women as OR in the Corps of Military Police in the Indian Army was introduced in 2019.
However, now all three wings of the Indian Armed Forces have started deploying women below officer rank as Agniveers.
Now, the provisions for Agniveer recruitment are that only unmarried female candidates will be eligible for enrolment as Agniveers in all three wings of the Indian Armed Forces, and they shall undertake not to marry during the defined engagement period of four years. Agniveers who marry during the said period shall be discharged from the service.
Further, only unmarried Agniveers will be eligible for selection in the regular cadre. Further, female candidates shall additionally be required to undertake not to get pregnant during the engagement period. After completing four years, the top 25 percent of candidates will be granted permanent status.
So, the gist is that earlier, there were no provisions for the recruitment of women below officer rank in the Indian Armed Forces, which meant women were recruited only for officer rank. And, as discussed, they are getting all the benefits under the maternity benefit. Now, the Indian Armed Forces have also started recruiting women below the officer rank, so these women recruits, after completing four years and attaining a regular cadre, will be entitled to all the benefits given under maternity benefits, as women officers are getting now.