Model Policy for Women in Police in India
Increasing the numbers and role of women in police has slowly, albeit firmly, gained policy recognition in India. Through several initiatives, the Government of India reiterates gender diversity in policing as an important measure for affording greater protection to, and preventing crimes against, women, and for “improving the image of the police...and making the police station a gender-sensitive place.”3 In 2009, it laid down 33% as the benchmark target for women’s representation in the police.4 Apart from the Union Territories, nine states have adopted 33% reservation,5 five states 30%,6 Bihar 38%, and five states have
less than 30% reservation.7 Nine states have not set a target.8
Despite these policy commitments and guidelines, targets remain very much on paper. As of January 2017, women make up only 7.28% of the total police strength in India.11 Some states fare better – Tamil Nadu (15.97%), Himachal Pradesh (12.25%) and Maharashtra (11.62%). Others have a long way to go – Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are at less than five per cent. A breakdown of the numbers reveals women are concentrated at lower ranks, with very few at important operational positions such as officer in charge of districts or police stations.
Achieving substantive equality between men and women within the police requires a multipronged approach. It requires systematic planning towards an incremental increase in the overall representation of women at all levels, within a specified time period and towards the ultimate goal of achieving proportionate representation of men and women. Simultaneously, it requires urgent measures to identify and address systemic gaps in facilities, structures, processes and practices that disadvantage women with a view to creating a supportive and a welcoming environment. It is important that efforts at both increasing women’s numbers in the police, and improving facilities and processes, go hand in hand. Any attempt to condition either on the progress against the other – increase numbers only when facilities improve, or conversely, improve facilities only when numbers increase – will be facile and signal resistance towards genuine diversity.
Not a single state or the central government has developed such a comprehensive framework. Without it, efforts at increasing women representation will remain ad-hoc and disconnected with need and reality.
This Model Policy seeks to fill this gap. Recognizing that policing is a state subject and that state-specific policies will be more effective and relevant, it is designed to serve as a template model to lay down clear, time-bound and actionable measures to bridge the imbalance between men and women within the police. It rests on the premise that policing needs women and not the other way around. It emphasizes parity at every step, bringing in proactive and special measures as needed, as the benchmark to integrate a genuine gender perspective into all organizational policies and processes, and take all measures needed to achieve gender equality.