There are over 20 lakh women personnel serving in the Indian security and police force but when it comes to training, performing their duty and law enforcement, unwarily they step in the shoes of their male counterparts: from body protection gear like bulletproof jackets, helmet to fire arms, all the equipment are designed and made for men. Now for the first time, women personnel across ranks and forces are demanding for gender-friendly equipment, firearms designed with the body specifics of women, ergonomically designed uniforms, construction of toilets, hostels and gender friendly personal policies.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>These and other recommendations have emerged from the recently concluded 7th National Conference for Women Police organized by the Bureau of Police Research and Development and the CRPF in order to increase productivity of women personnel deployed in security agencies. It will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs and upon its approval will be implemented across India. The three-day conference held on January 6-8 at Gurgaon included presentations from senior ranking women personnel on capacity building and leadership. Inspector General (Personnel), Sashastra Seema Bal, Renuka Mishra presented a paper `creating gender sensitive work equipment and infrastructure,’ which included a survey and study conducted across India of over 340 women personnel from the SSB, CRPF, the National Police Academy, UP, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Odisha and Telangana police. “Women find it very difficult to perform duty wearing gear made for men. All of them complained that the bulletproof jackets are heavy and ill-fitting, naturally they are made for flat-chested, thus causing pain and even breathlessness,’’ Mishra told dna. This is also true of the other body-protection gear or anti riot equipment like the helmet, fiber glass shield, lathi, belt, shoes, winter jackets. The survey also asked questions on the use of firearms and whether women personnel were able to use them. “Women are of different built, their hands are small and many times they can’t even make a full-grip. It doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use or shoot, just that the firearm is too big,’’ Mishra added. In UP, the women police carry a .303 for patrolling, which Mishra states is not just impractical for a female personnel but also for men.“Instead of saying that a woman is physically short and not capable to do her job, the government must leverage the differences that will help them to perform their work more effectively.’’Women police personnel said that while all the gear, equipment and uniform kits were available in different sizes and for both genders, only a standard size for men was procured. In western countries, women personnel have gender specific equipment including caps or helmets which makes space for their long hair, hands free belt for firearms and attachments.Other recommendations that came from the session were on amendments the infrastructure including mobile toilets, sanitary pad disposers and incinerators, conversion of barracks to hostels with private space and rooms for women, health and safety, family and environment. Lack of separate female toilet facilities while on security/ bandobast duties force women personnel to drink less water so as to avoid relieving themselves. A majority of women have dehydration and Urinary Tract Infection as they don’t relieve themselves frequently. Then there are issues of menstruation and disposal of sanitary pads. The infrastructure is not conducive for the females to work.Mishra observes that, if a woman personnel is spending over 80 per cent of her time thinking of the uncomfortable environment and facilities, how will she perform her duty ?A senior ranking official from the BPR&D said that the focus of the conference is to attend the issues and create a dialogue related to Women Police. “Women personnel in police or in security agencies work in stress and their efficiency is often blamed for. These recommendations will help to address the gaps related to gender equality and police functioning.’’ Although it is not mandatory for the MHA to accept all the recommendations provided by BPR&D, the officer was hopeful that like the recent cabinet resolution made 30 per cent mandatory representation of women in police force, which came from the previous NWCP, even this year’s recommendations will sail through.
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