The Guardian: Can India’s military veterans join the fight for women’s rights?
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an average of 92 women are raped in India every day. A survey compiled by the Thomson Reuters Foundation lists the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Somalia as the five worst states for women’s rights in descending order.
The Indian armed forces instil powerful leadership skills in their ranks that don’t vanish on retirement, combined with a deep sense of honour and discipline. Moreover, veterans who have retired often still feel a sense of purpose and service that can be channelled into upholding the rights of women and girls. This then serves a dual purpose – that of furthering human rights and equality in India and that of providing ex-service personnel a sense of community and usefulness.
They can add value by becoming champions by speaking up at the community level for the rights of women and girls, supporting and assisting local authorities in a massive advocacy campaign throughout India on gender equality and human rights. This can be easily taken to scale, from house to house and community to community.
All evidence points to the fact that India’s future is dependent on its youth and its women. Empowering, educating and employing India’s women is critical for India’s economic progress. The ex-service personnel are a formidable “soft power” that can uphold the human rights of India’s women and girls and ensure their future, thus ensuring our own.