First woman RAF DIG, first woman Air Marshal throw light on their journey of breaking barriers

New Delhi : The newly-appointed defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, is only the second woman after late Indira Gandhi to hold the responsibility, and the first one to take full time charge.

On the day of her taking charge as the defence minister, two other women achievers talked to ANI about how they brought the shackles of patriarchy down.

Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force, is all praises for Nirmala Sitharaman.

“I became the air marshal and the director general of the medical services as the first lady a decade back. But in spite of that there still is a lot of evolution that has to take place, wherein the women also have to perform to reach the top,” Air Marshal P. Bandopadhyay, who is also the second woman in the Indian armed forces to be promoted to a three-star rank, told ANI.

Air Marshal Bandopadhyay also said that whether it is a male or a female, everyone has to perform well.

“Being a woman is not a negative point for reaching anywhere in any sphere, for any of us. It is a simple hard work, you have to know the facts that you are trying for,” said Air Marshal P. Bandopadhyay.

She also said that the mindset is changing and a lot of work has to be done.

“But those people who have reached at a level, they should infuse confidence in the females to do better, especially the young generation,” Air Marshal Bandopadhyay said.

Air marshal P. Bandopadhyay further said that there are so many schemes for girls, adding, “We should monitor how they are progressing ahead and once we reach this level then there is no difference between a boy and a girl. But the most important point is that the mindset of the people has to change.”

Another woman achiever, Seema Dhundia, an expert at defusing explosive situations, was the commander of first all women UN Police unit. She is the Deputy Inspector General, Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Initially posted at Liberia in West Africa DIG Dhundia said that it was initially a “tough task” when she was selected as a contingent commander for the first form female unit which was deployed in Liberia.

“I could the feel vibes and apprehensions amongst my colleagues as to how this contingent is going to perform. But I was sure of our training and was confident,” DIG Seema Dhundia said.

She also said that a lady is always a good communicator and in a conflict-ridden area where most of the victims are women and small children, if a woman is deployed, she becomes an inspiration for other girls.

“A woman in uniform becomes a role model for the people who are downtrodden, and are not able to come forward to explain their position. Most of the girls became a role model for the local Liberian women,” DIG Seema said.

Sitharaman, one of the four ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team at the Centre to be elevated to the Cabinet rank, represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha.

A Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) alumnus, Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2006 as its national spokesperson and Prime Minister Modi’s ministry in 2014. ( ANI)