There is no denying that certain “manly” professions need consistent proving by women where the most important thing lies in doing the job perfectly.

Talking of such career choices which are inaccessible, the Sainik School in Chhingchip, Mizoram has decided to reserve 10 percent of the total students for girls indicating a revolutionary change in its gender-biased admission procedure.

If you thought professions like pilots, sailors, and soldiers existed only for men, you need to certainly catch up now.

The first 'Girl Cadets' in a Sainik School
The issue of girls being treated as equal has been raised in the earlier Sainik schools

The Six Twelve-Year-Olds Making History In A Mizoram Village

Zonunpuii  Lalnunpuia had always dreamt of being an army officer like her dad but she was constantly silenced by people who told her that it’s a job only “men” do.

Her brother Havilder Billy Lalnunpuia became an army officer posted in Lebanon as a part of the UN Peacekeeping force.

It was not until last November when a WhatsApp forward spreading out the news that Sainik Schools will start admitting girls, Zonunpuii knew she could choose to live her dreams instead of having been turned away.

The school had registered 31 girl applicants who had to clear a written entrance examination with boys along with a personal interview before the final 6 girls were given admission.

The first 'Girl Cadets' in a Sainik School
The six girls who were inducted into the Sainik School Chhingchhip

But Zonunpuii decided to break the sweat by prepping up on General Knowledge, mathematics and grammar for the All India Sainik School Entrance Exam in Aizawl.

She was bursting with confidence when she managed to impress the interviewer by telling off the names of governors and Chief Ministers of the country.

Along with Zonunpuii, Jurisa Chakma, Malsawmthari Khiangte, Alicia Lalmuanpuii, Lalhminghlui Lallianzuala, and Elizabeth Malsawmtluangi got into the Sainik School.

Meanwhile, Jurisa’s father talks about how “Chakmas” are looked upon as the marginalized minorities who illegally immigrated to Mizoram from Bangladesh and how getting his daughter into a Sainik school could set an example for the community.

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How Are The Male-Dominated Sainik Schools Adapting To The “Revolutionary Change”?

Sainik Schools were established by the former Defense Minister, VK Krishna Menon, to reduce the regional and class gap among Indian Military officers with the first Sainik School established by the Central Government in Satara, Maharashtra in 1961.

A total of 28 such schools have been established across the country under the purview of the Ministry of Defense except for the Lucknow Sainik School which is run by the state administration.

The Sainik School Chhingchhip was the pilot school to induct girls although 17 girls were admitted into the Lucknow Sainik School this year.

This is what Lt.Colonel Inderjeet Singh had to say when the school has issued a notification stating that 10  percent of the class strength will be reserved for girls,

“For us, 10 percent of the total class strength meant six girls. Since we were a new school, we had only two batches: Class 6 (with 60 students) and Class 7 (100 students). Imagine six girls among 154 boys!”

The girls got used to the routine which includes getting up at dawn for the 5.30 a.m. PT drill, attending classes, exercise, games and ending the dinner at 7 pm despite the first four months being the litmus test preparing them for the ultimate challenge.

The first 'Girl Cadets' in a Sainik School
Girls getting used to the routine drill which prepares them for the upcoming challenges

Much effort has been given to stress the parity between girls and boys where teachers have been asked to not give them preferential treatment but understand they might need extra attention initially.

One of the 6 students, Jurisa had started menstruating after she joined the hostel but she was not given any more time than others to talk about it while calling home regarding this.

Reason Why Mizoram Was Chosen For The First Girls Sainik School

With Mizoram’s women literacy rate standing at 89.27 percent, women are the most visible members of the society as shopkeepers, teachers, officers and almost any other profession except for politics and the Church.

The Northeast mentality is also progressive considering the fact that the villagers donated the land to the Government for the school.

This ‘historic’ step is also set to change the attitude of the state towards armed forces which has been looked upon with suspicion due to a long insurgency stemming from the Mizo National Front uprising of 1966 where the IAF had bombed Aizawl, raiding the only civil territory in the country.

Image Credits: The Indian Express

Sources: The Better India, The Indian Express

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