Looking ahead for an equitable policing system

(MainsGS2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)


  • As the Leader’s Summit of the G20 inches closer, the dialogue on the glaring gender disparity in policing has failed to garner adequate attention.

Slow progress:

  • Despite global calls to increase the representation of women in policing, the progress remains regrettably slow.
  • According to data released by the Bureau of Police Research & Development, (BPRD), women constitute about 10.49 percent of India’s police force, falling much behind their global counterparts.
  • The United Kingdom has over 34.9 percent women in terms of its overall workforce, while the United States (US) has 12.6 percent female law enforcement officers.

India Justice Report :

  • The little increase of women in the police force remained largely restricted to the lower rungs of the hierarchy with women police officers making up only 8.2 percent at the national level.
  • The picture looks grim with the India Justice Report stating that until 2020, despite a 33 percent quota for women in certain states, none of them has yet reached their targets.
  • It further observes that it will take the police force an estimated 33 years to meet its desired target as well.

Situation worldwide:

  • According to a report by INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and UN Women, while women contribute to more effective law enforcement, they face many barriers across all facets of police operations.
  • Despite constitutional safeguards, women across the world working in law enforcement agencies continue to face discrimination and exist as a marginalised minority.
  • Its traditionally male-dominated bastion still stands mainly because of its inherent tendency to reinforce societal gender norms.

Patriarchal mindset:

  • While sexist humour, body shaming, etc., are normalised within the system, women are also viewed as liabilities, especially in physical confrontations.
  • Training periods in policing heavily tend to invest in the physical prowess of cadets and shy away from developing interpersonal skills.
  • Police academies often assign male recruits to have a higher bar for physical fitness which creates a notion of superiority.
  • Young female personnel are then likely to enter the job with a preordained masculine sub-culture with little recognition of the positive assets that they could bring to their workplace.


  • India’s progressive lexicon of a ‘women-led development model’, aims to leverage leadership spaces for women across sectors.
  • Thus, improving empirical data collection methods for analysis that examine gender intersectionality and existing policy interventions can go a long way in improving women’s role in policing.
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