Breaking Barriers: Women Pioneers in the Border Roads Organization

Since its establishment in 1960, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) had been exclusively comprised of male officers due to the challenging and isolated nature of their tasks along the country’s borders. However, in a historic move aligned with the government’s theme of ‘Naari Sashaktikaran’, DGBR made a groundbreaking decision on 8th March 2021. This decision aimed to create a gender-neutral environment for women officers, reflecting a significant shift in the organization’s culture.

The journey began with the appointment of Ms. Vaishali S Hiwase as the Officer Commanding (OC) of a Road Construction Company (RCC) on April 28, 2021. Assigned one of BRO’s toughest projects, connecting Munshiyari to Milam glacier in Uttarakhand, she exemplified resilience and leadership in challenging terrains. Following suit, Ms. Obin Taki took command of an RCC in the inhospitable Siang valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

Witnessing the success of these endeavors, a trailblazing initiative unfolded as an all-women RCC was established at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district. Major Aaina Rana assumed command, making history as the first woman officer to lead this unit on August 30, 2021. Under her dynamic leadership, the RCC excelled in developing roads, including those leading to Mana pass, situated at a breathtaking 18,478 feet.

Further strides were made with Colonel Navneet Duggal, who, as the OC of a Field Workshop in the Kashmir valley, became the first EME officer to command in such a challenging location. Simultaneously, Lt Col (now Colonel) Snigdha Sharma broke barriers by heading the Legal Cell in the BRO Headquarters, managing over 700 court cases with efficiency and upholding the organization’s legal integrity.

This momentum continued as Col Archana Sood took command of a Task Force at Zero in Arunachal Pradesh in February 2023, becoming the first woman officer to lead a Task Force in BRO. Her commendable efforts are steering road construction projects in the demanding Dibang valley.

In June 2023, Col Ponung Doming took charge of a Task Force at Hanle, Ladakh, handling strategically vital projects. She oversees the construction of the world’s highest road at 19,400 feet in Chumar sector, among other crucial initiatives.

The BRO’s commitment to women’s empowerment extends beyond command roles, fostering a multi-faceted approach. This includes providing varied employment roles, opportunities for growth in a gender-neutral environment, access to proper healthcare, and encouragement for holistic development. In line with the ‘Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, BRO supported landmark women-led adventure activities, showcasing their strength and spirit in mountain trekking, white water rafting, cycling, and an all-women electric vehicle rally promoting environmental consciousness.

The introduction of women in command assignments within BRO has been a game-changer, demonstrating their dedication and capability. These women officers have not only accelerated project timelines but also served as inspiring models for other organizations to emulate. As the government actively promotes gender parity and women’s empowerment, BRO stands as a beacon, exemplifying the spirit of inclusion, diversity, and excellence in the realm of defense and infrastructure development.