Model to follow

The Gujarat government has taken a good decision to reserve 33 per cent of the posts in the state police force for women.

 It would be cynical to view it as an attempt by a newly-appointed woman chief minister to create a personal constituency of support for herself. Giving better representation to women in the uniformed forces, including the police, has received much attention in recent years, but the idea needs to be more actively followed up. The national average of representation is only less than 6 per cent, with about 95,000 women among 17 lakh police personnel in the country. Some states have only 1-2 per cent women in the forces. Even the rule that only women police personnel should arrest women is sometimes difficult to  implement. The image and effectiveness of the police will only improve with more women in it.

It is necessary that any organisation that interacts and deals with people should be representative of society. Women, minorities, other social classes and people from different regions should be fairly represented in these bodies to give them more legitimacy and acceptance. This is more so in the case of law enforcement bodies. The wrong idea that policing is a male job is still strong. This is perhaps because it is still associated with physical strength.  Policing actually calls for other and better qualities which women are not lacking in. They have also proved themselves to be capable of meeting any challenge with their performance in all areas, including policing. Greater representation for women can make the police forces more efficient and even more human.

It is  also wrong to think that there should be more women in the police because crimes against women are increasing. Women in the police forces should be complete police personnel equipped to meet all professional situations and needs. Selection of women in good numbers will also give employment opportunities to many and contribute to their greater empowerment.

Other states should also follow the example being set by Gujarat and open the doors of police forces wider for women. The performance of states in this respect is very uneven. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have better representation than the national average. Bihar has a low representation but has decided to set a 35 per cent quota for women in fresh recruitments. Ample representation will be achieved only over a period of time but the efforts should start now.

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