Bengaluru: Women have all the right to dream, achieve and should always have a never give up spirit, Indian Air Force's fighter pilots said on the occasion of International Women's Day. 

"I had dreamt of flying and I achieved it. It gives me satisfaction that I have fulfilled my dream," Flight Lieutenant Anjali, who flies a Russian-origin Sukhoi fighter jet said. 

On being asked about comparison with a male counterpart, she said, "We got a chance and we proved ourselves. There is no discrimination in the Indian Air Force. We are no less than men."

Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, who flies MiG-21 (Bison) said, "There are fewer women officers in the combat role, but I am sure the number would go up in future. Creating awareness in the society is the need of the hour."

Flight Lieutenant Mohana Singh, who also flies the MiG-21 (Bison), said, "We do what we were taught. Machine do their own work. We know our duties and responsibilities and if the need arises we can even make supreme sacrifice for the country." 

"It will be almost three decades for women officers in IAF. Aircraft doesn't know whether it's a male or female officer who is flying it. It is the journey to sit in the aircraft that says everything -- whether we will be able to do it or not," Wing Commander Shaliza Dhami said.

Last year, the government had informed the Parliament that 10 women officers were commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF since the stream was opened up for women in 2016.

Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik in a written reply had said, "The strength of women officers serving the IAF as of September 1, 2020, is 1,875."

Currently, as per the government data, there are 9,118 women serving in the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh wished women on the occasion of the International Women's Day, which is celebrated on March 8 every year. 

"Saluting our indomitable 'Nari Shakti' on International Women's Day! India takes pride in the many accomplishments of the women of our nation. It is our Government's honour to be getting the opportunity to work towards furthering women empowerment across a wide range of sectors," PM Modi said in a tweet.

"On International Women's Day, I truly appreciate the role of India's Nari Shakti in strengthening the foundations of this great nation. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is deeply committed to women empowerment in all walks of life," Singh said.

"Today, women have become an integral part of India's security and defence architecture. The targeted outcome of such empowerment is to create an atmosphere where women feel free, safe and secure to pursue any vocation, profession or take a road less taken," he added.