This step defines the Indian Army’s approach towards a gender-neutral Army, the defence ministry said

Expanding promotion avenues for women officers in the Indian Army, a Selection Board has cleared the way for the elevation of five women officers to Colonel (Time Scale) rank, post completion of 26 years of reckonable service.

This is the first time that women officers serving with the Corps of Signals, Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (EME) and the Corps of Engineers have been approved to the rank of Colonel, said the Ministry of Defence.

Previously, promotion to the rank of Colonel was only applicable for women officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the Army Education Corps (AEC).

The five women officers selected for Colonel Time Scale rank are:

Lt Col Sangeeta Sardana from the Corps of Signals, Lt Col Sonia Anand and Lt Col Navneet Duggal from the Corps of EME and Lt Col Reenu Khanna and Lt Col Ritcha Sagar from the Corps of Engineers.

The defence ministry pointed out that the widening of promotion avenues to more branches of the Indian Army is a sign of increasing career opportunities for women officers.

"Combined with the decision to grant permanent commission to women officers from a majority of branches of the Indian Army, this step defines the Indian Army’s approach towards a gender-neutral Army," the ministry said.