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COLOMBO: In a first for Sri Lanka’s Navy, the first batch of women has joined its naval academy to train as officers.

Female personnel began to receive Navy assignments in 2022, but until now it was only for sea duty.

This week, six women were in the group of 66 cadets who received letters of academy appointment at the Sri Lanka Navy headquarters in Colombo.

“This is the first time we have recruited lady cadets to the … Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee,” Capt. Gayan Wickramasuriya, the Navy’s spokesperson, told Arab News on Friday.

“There are so many lady officers working in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan also … It’s not a new thing,” added Wickramasuriya.

“Women can do the same jobs as men, that is why the commander of the Navy decided to recruit the lady cadets.”

J.H.D.D. Sethara, one of the women who is starting naval academy training, has always been drawn to the sea and the opportunity allows her to combine her passion with service.

“Since I was good in mathematics in secondary school, I told my parents about my ambitions to work for the Navy as by virtue of my maths knowledge, I could be helpful in navigational work on ships,” she told Arab News.

“This is a good opportunity to show the strength of women.”

The admission of female cadets to the academy comes in the wake of the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to enable women to rise in the country’s military hierarchy.

While women are present in the Army, for example, they can only reach the rank of major, and need to retire by the age of 45.

The government said last month that to remove this and similar barriers, changes are currently being drafted in military laws.

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