The Gujarat government’s announcement of revision of its recruitment norms to ensure that women comprise 33 per cent of the state police force is a welcome step towards empowering women. Though the quota for women in police force already existed in Gujarat on paper, it could not be filled due to stringent criteria for physical tests. Now the norms will be adjusted so that women can clear the tests and Gujarat will become the first state in the country to implement such a progressive provision which in effect provides for such reservation to women in all cadres in future recruitments.
This should be seen as a continuation of the women empowerment drive of chief minister Anandiben Patel. The state government had ascribed top priority to women empowerment and had listed out several measures to be taken for the women in the state even in the 100-day agenda released recently. Credit for this must go to prime minister Narendra Modi who ensured that the state got a woman chief minister who gave primacy to women’s empowerment issues. He has ensured that charity begins in his home state.
It is to be hoped that every effort would be made to ensure that the experiment is successful. The state government must also ensure that police stations do not become hotbeds of gender discrimination against women by men who will continue to outnumber them. Gujarat’s lead should inspire other states to follow its example and improve representation of women in police forces all over the country. At present, women constitute less than 7 per cent of the central and state law enforcement agencies and their under-representation is one of the main causes for lax enforcement of laws protecting women. The proportion is extremely skewed in states like Uttar Pradesh, which has just 2,586 women against the total strength of 1.73 lakh in the state police forces. It is small wonder then that crimes against women are rampant there.