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Why are women staying away from the Armed Forces

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New Delhi, Mar 20: The government made a push a couple of years back and decided to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in all the Central Armed Police Forces. In January, the junior home minister, Kiren Rijiju said that women representation in the Central Reserve Police Force and Central Industrial Security Force would be made 15 per cent, while it would be five per cent in the Border Security Force, ITBP and SSB.

"Our target is to increase the women representation to 15 per cent in the CRPF and CISF and 5 per cent in BSF, ITBP and SSB," he said during the Question Hour.

On 5 January, 2016, it was decided to reserve 33 per cent posts at constable level for women in the CRPF and CISF to begin with and 14 to 15 per cent posts at constable level in border guarding forces like BSF, SSB and ITBP in a phased manner, he said.

Why are women staying away from the Armed Forces

While these are welcome moves, the problem is that there are not too many takers for this. Take for instance the postings in the CRPF, which has a total of 2.96,382 personnel. The number of women in the force stands at a mere 2.64 per cent or 7,824. In the case of the CISF, there are just 8,588 women out of the total 1,56,013 personnel.

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In the ITBP out of the total 80,000 just 2,000 are women. In the BSF the number of women personnel stands at 5,129 out of the total strength of 2,45,000. In the SSB out of the total 98,00, just 1,817 are women.

A senior official here said that while reservation had been announced, the forces were finding it hard to encourage the women to join the force. Various issues have been cited that include tough postings as a result of which the number of women personnel is low, the officer also added.

The officer however added that the scenario would change over the years. It is too early to conclude that the reservation policy has failed. Certain teething issues such as provision of basic amenities and further encouragement have to be addressed, if the number of women in the forces have to grow.

Despite various drives being undertaken, women have cited difficulties such as family commitments etc. Some have also cited the lack of privacy as a major concern. The officer says that the number would increase, but gradually. The awareness drives have to increase, in case the number of women personnel have to increase. Further we need to make the atmosphere more conducive and give them better postings, the official also explained.

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