Gender bias

Gender bias

Two parliamentary committees which studied the representation of women in government services have found that it is very low all over the country.

They have also made some suggestions to improve the share of women in government jobs. One committee has noted that women form only 10.4 percent of the central government staff of all categories. This is shockingly low when women account for half the population. Another committee found that the national average of women in the police  force is only 5.33 per cent.  Overall women’s representation in government services has improved from 7.53 per cent in 2001 to over 10 per cent now but the growth is far too slow. In the railways, which is the country’s biggest employer, women’s  share is only 6.43 per cent, much less than the national average. Banks and financial institutions have done  better. The share of women in  private sector jobs is also higher than in government services.

Even taking into consideration the low literacy levels of women in relation to those of men, the figures show gross under-representation of women.  Apart from a continuing prejudice against women and the wrong notion that they are not fit for certain kinds of jobs, the conditions that go with most jobs  and the lack of facilities specifically required by women are factors that keep their share low. The committee has recommended more liberal terms of maternity leave, flexible working hours and provision of daycare centres to attract more women to government jobs.

The Ratna Singh committee has recommended that women’s share in police forces should be increased to 33 per cent, through special recruitments and provision of special facilities for them in service.Though there is much talk about gender equality and claims are made about steps being taken for women’s empowerment, the fact is that women  face discrimination in recruitment for jobs and later in the treatment meted to them in service. Financial independence that women gain through employment is the most important requirement for their empowerment. This need not be considered a favour for women because studies have shown  that they are  as productive as men and even perform better in many respects.   So greater job shares for women are a social need and may help to improve the efficiency levels in government services.  A 10 per cent representation for them is shamefully inadequate.

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