There will be many more female faces visible in the central security and police forces soon, thanks to an initiative by Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury.
The home ministry, following a request from Chowdhury, has agreed to increase the representation of women in the security forces to 10 per cent, from its existing two per cent.
Chowdhury, who feels that only economic empowerment can set women free, had asked the home ministry to raise the woman strength in the central security and police forces by 30 per cent.
"The home ministry has agreed to increase the strength of women to 10 per cent. They will try to implement it from the next recruitment onwards," Chowdhury, presently in Uganda on an official trip, told IANS over telephone.
"The representation of women in our security and police forces is very less even to implement some rules of the Indian Penal Code, including the arrest and search of women offenders only by women personnel. Besides, the presence of women in the security forces will sensitise the men towards the fair sex," she added.
According to an official in the women and child development ministry, who did not wish to be named, the hike in the number of women in the security forces came about after Chowdhury made "repeated requests" to the home ministry and held several meetings with the minister and the home secretary.
"The minister argued that as modern women are capable of taking up any challenges, why should they be denied opportunities in the security forces. She said higher representation in the forces would infuse more confidence in women," the official added.
Currently, of the three paramilitary forces, only the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have women staff. The Border Security Force (BSF) does not have women.
While the CRPF has only 5,000 women troopers, the CISF has two per cent women in its 105,000-strength.
"Apart from being an employment opportunity, the jobs will also be a break from stereo-type jobs. Most men think that women can only do pickle-making and tailoring jobs," Chowdhury said.
According to the minister, the home ministry would be approaching non governmental organisations to train women for the work in security and police forces.
The CISF had earlier announced plans to raise its female strength from two to five per cent. The CISF director had said there would be recruitment of 1,294 women constables and 122 sub inspectors for deployment in sensitive areas like airports and the Delhi Metro.
The CISF provides security to India's state-run industrial units, apart from airports, government buildings, nuclear stations, oil rigs and museums, as well as for VIP security and in disaster management.
The CRPF assists the state and union territories in police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency.