Indian women officers to attend Saudi defence show

| Updated: 06 February, 2024 5:29 pm IST

NEW DELHI: India is projecting Nari Shakti (woman power) on a global scale by sending a three-member delegation of women officers from the armed forces to participate in the World Defence Show 2024 hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. The delegation aims to showcase the future of defence through technological advancements from around the world, officials revealed on Monday.

The Indian women officers, representing the three services, include a fighter pilot, a combat engineer, and a naval officer serving on board a warship, as per the officials.

The delegation comprises Squadron Leader Bhawana Kanth from the Indian Air Force, Colonel Ponung Doming from the Indian Army, and Lieutenant Commander Annu Prakash from the Indian Navy, according to media reports.

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The World Defence Show provides a platform for the global defence industry to collaborate, exchange knowledge, and explore innovations and capabilities across all defence domains. The event is attended by top military leaders, government officials, and industry leaders.

Squadron Leader Bhawana Kanth, who flies a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet, will participate in a panel discussion on ‘Investing in an Inclusive Future’ on February 7. The discussion will focus on gender diversity and the representation of women across all levels in the defence domain.

Other speakers in Kanth’s panel include Major General Adel Al-Balawi from the Saudi Ministry of Defence and Air Marshal ME Sampson from the UK Royal Air Force. Reema Bandar Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, will lead the ‘International Women in Defence’ program at the show.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the role of India’s women in projecting Nari Shakti and showcasing their capabilities in various fields. He made these remarks at the National Cadet Corps rally on January 27, following the impressive participation of women in the 75th Republic Day parade.

During the Republic Day parade, an all-women tri-service contingent, led by women officers, participated for the first time. Additionally, 15 women pilots, including six fighter pilots, flew Rafales, Sukhoi-30s, and helicopters during the flypast.

Women in uniform are increasingly taking on central roles, flying fighter planes, serving on warships, commanding units, being inducted into various cadres, eligible for permanent commissions, and undergoing training at the National Defence Academy.

Women played a prominent role in the Republic Day parade, with 80% of all activities involving them. Notably, 112 women artists heralded the parade with a variety of Indian musical instruments, and 1,500 women participated in the Vande Bharatam cultural extravaganza. The national flag was unfurled by a woman officer upon the arrival of President Droupadi Murmu, accompanied by a 21-gun salute.

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