Women call the shots in Sirmour district | india | Hindustan Times
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Women call the shots in Sirmour district

While various state governments in north India are struggling to improve the sex ratio, Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh has achieved the rare distinction of having an all-woman top brass. Jyotsna Jalali reports.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2011 21:00 IST
Jyotsna Jalali

While various state governments in north India are struggling to improve the sex ratio, Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh has achieved the rare distinction of having an all-woman top brass. The district is being governed by women officers, be it the deputy commissioner, superintendent of police, DSP (headquarters), district revenue officer and chairpersons of the municipal committee and the zila parishad.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Punita Bhardwaj, SP, said, “I feel stronger as a woman. I am always under scrutiny as people want to see how I perform, but I have taken it as a challenge and proved myself in the best possible way,” said Bhardwaj, who has served in the police force for 24 years.

The deputy commissioner, 2005-batch IAS officer Meera Mohanty, said, “This is my first posting as DC and I am enjoying every bit of it. If you keep life simple, nothing gets complicated. I believe in giving my best shot in whatever I am doing.” Mohanty joined as DC in January this year. She said her biggest challenge so far had been restoration of peace after a major clash between residents of two villages in Paonta Sahib.

“A joint effort by the police and the administration helped restore normalcy. The SP gave me full support and we were able to control the situation promptly,” she said. Both attributed the coordination between the district administration and the police to the fact that being women, they understood each other.

Mohanty as well as Bhardwaj are living in government accommodation here while their families are in other cities.

Mohanty said, “My husband is posted in Chandigarh. We are more of a weekend couple. My in-laws and parents have been very supportive.” Bhardwaj’s husband and 14-year-old daughter live in Shimla. “My daughter understands that I have to live away because of my work. I try to give her maximum exposure,” she said. The family generally gets together over the weekend.

Both officers have started campaigns to educate women in the district about their rights. “It took us some time to make people respond, but once they realised we were like them, they didn’t take time to open up. It is very important to gel with people and I am glad we have been able to do so,” said Mohanty.