The Delhi gangrape and the unsavoury comments thereafter may have underlined that misogyny dominates our society, but here's a story to reassure that times are indeed changing.
Go through the roster of top officers running Jalandhar, and you'll find that women occupy top posts
Deputy commissioner Shruti Singh, inspector general of police Gurpreet Deo, assistant commissioner of police Manjeet Kaur, municipal corporation joint commissioner Anupam Kaler, and Sarojani Gautam Sharda, additional chief administrator of the Jalandhar Development Authority, stand out. The district education officer is Neelam Kumari, while the circle education officer is Darshan Kaur.
Deo, 45, lists education as the change agent for true empowerment of women: "Now womenfolk are given key positions, though there was a time not long ago when it was not possible. And those who made it faced questions over their ability." And from here on, Deo feels, true independence of women can come through economic self-dependence: "Women should educate themselves and their daughters so that they can take their own decisions."
DC Shruti Singh, 30, talks of personal attitude, "I have never feared male domination; rather I feel it is an era where women dominate. We are more sensitive to issues. Girls should not think be daunted by gender prejudice, and face every situation with a firm mind." On her priority list is a city more secure for women.
But prejudices give birth to some dark humour too. Kaler, 36, joint commissioner of MC, smiles that most people still call her 'sir', not 'madam'. "Well, the habit stays because mostly people perceive of bosses as male."
On a practical level, she stresses on "professional attire" to drive home the point that women can be bosses. "We cannot wear casuals in front of the juniors and people, as there is a need to make firm impressions."
PCS officer Sarojini Gautam Sharda, too, underlines how women are not called officers, but 'lady' officers. She feels that people are still more judgmental in the case of women officers. "People doubt whether a woman be able to ensure justice. But women are multi-taskers, and thus relate to problems more sensitively."
Apart from the officer roster, Jalandhar has a relatively good record in sex ratio, too, with 913 females to every 1,000 males. The figure is better than the state average of 893, as per the 2011 census.
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