Insisting that there was no bias against women in the armed forces, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that they were being encouraged to join the defence services in large numbers.
He also said that no view had been taken at the "decision-making" level on the issue of creating the post of Combined Defence Services.
"I can assure you that there is no bias against women officers," Mukherjee said amid raging controversy over allegations that women in the defence forces were being discriminated against.
"We are proud of them. They are making valuable contributions," he said.
On the issue of women being given combat role, the Defence Minister said "that depends upon their willingness and wishes. But it will be more hard work, there is no doubt in this."
Mukherjee said that "the job will be more strenuous and there will be more hard work to put. But they are getting ready."
A controversy had triggered about a week back after Vice Chief of Armed Forces Lt Gen S Pattabiraman reportedly said that Army could do without women.
His remarks came after a woman Lieutenant committed suicide in Jammu, apparently because she was given some insignificant duties.