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Kerala’s Formidable Women Army: Lady IAS Officers Heading 10 of the 14 Districts

Indian Masterminds’ Special Feature on International Women’s Day 2022. Ten of the 14 districts in Kerala have women Collectors. Know what real women empowerment is from them!
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Staying true to the saying, ‘Being a woman itself is a superpower’, women IAS officers in Kerala present a real example of women empowerment by being in charge of two third administration of the state.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022, to celebrate the achievements of these women officers, Indian Masterminds presents their views and perspectives on real empowerment of women.

WHAT MAKES KERALA STAND OUT

Kerala, the state that is also known as God’s own country, is not only rich in natural beauty but also has the highest working women population. The state has at present 10 women District Collectors in its 14 districts, indicative of its status as the state with the highest literacy rate of 96.2% as per 2011 census. Here, the officers who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s are not only proving themselves as the finest administrators, but also becoming a symbol of Nari Shakti by motivating other women by their efficiency and conduct as an officer.

With Dr Renu Raj, who recently took the charge of Alappuzha district, Kerala now has 10 district collectors. While the reservation for women in the state Assembly was 33 per cent, women collectors now constitute 71.4 per cent in administrative services in the state.

The officers we are going to highlight here are – Haritha V Kumar, DM Thrissur;  Divya S Iyer, DM Pathanamthitta; Afsana Parveen, DM Kollam; Sheeba George, DM Idukki; Dr PK Jayasree, DM Kottayam; Bhandari Swagat Ranveer Chand, DM Kasaragod; Navjot Khosa, DM Thiruvananthapuram; Mrunmayee Joshi, DM Palakkad; and Dr A Geetha, DM Wayanad.

WOMEN IAS OFFICERS ON EMPOWERMENT

IAS Officers Afsana Parveen and Dr. Renu Raj

Speaking to Indian Masterminds on this year’s theme of International Women’s Day, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow, District Collector of Alappuzha, Dr. Renu Raj, said, “I got the chance to perform my duties in the most vulnerable places as well as in the developed ones. The set of challenges that I faced as a woman officer were equal to that of a man officer. It is like this – society is always eager to look up to you when you are performing up to the mark. This service provides a very good opportunity for us to prove ourselves, and I think every woman is capable of doing such jobs.”

Dr. Renu Raj was a topper in CSE 2015 with 2nd rank and was a medical practitioner before.

Her Women’s Day message is: “The only thing that needs to be built is self-confidence. Women empowerment is not just about having education, getting a job and salary. It is also about the change that should come in society which will make women feel safe anywhere at any point of time. We, the ladies, should always be there to support each other, to motivate each other, and to stand by each other in times of trouble.”

While expressing her thoughts on the set of challenges a working woman has to face, IAS officer Afsana Parveen, DM Kollam, told Indian Masterminds, “I do feel that the way we work is different because our perspective is different, and that sometimes reflects in how we perform. As a District Collector, I’m very concerned about social service and how progressive I can be to resolve the issues of women.”

Elaborating further about her concerns, she said, “Although I’m a District Collector, I also have to perform my family duties, and here, work life balance plays a significant role. Basically, I can understand what kind of difficulties a working woman has to face and how I can help them.”

She also said that the ecosystem in Kerala is different as people here are used to seeing women working in top positions and they know that women are capable enough to perform their work very efficiently. 

Giving a message to young girls and women she said, “One mantra that I always followed in my life is, just believe in yourself. If you aspire to do something, you can achieve it, irrespective of the gender you belong to. Don’t compare yourself, do introspection, and believe nothing is impossible in life.”

Ms. Parveen is serving as the 48th Collector of Kollam district and is a 2014-batch IAS officer, holding a degree in engineering.

SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN’S DAY

The day is celebrated every year on March 8 to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The event celebrates women’s achievements and raises awareness about equality and lobbies for accelerated gender parity. It was observed for the first time in 1911.

Besides highlighting and recognising the achievements of women in different spheres, it also draws attention to important issues related to women, like gender discrimination, that exist even today.

MORE POWER WOMEN Of KERALA

IAS Officers Divya S Iyer and Haritha V Kumar

While talking about women civil servants in Kerala, we cannot leave out Ms. Divya S Iyer, who is DM of Pathanamthitta district. She is also a practicing doctor and is heading a district where women are taking leadership in all sectors. Talking about making her district women friendly, she said, “The district should be a forerunner in ending social evils like dowry. It is my wish to see Pathanamthitta evolve into a fully women-friendly place.”

Then there comes Ms. Haritha V. Kumar, the present Thrissur Collector, who was the national topper in the 2012 Civil Services Exam, becoming the first Keralite to grab the top spot after a gap of over 20 years.

Ms. Haritha’s aim is “to be a commoner and to contribute solutions to local issues.”

Women Officers Of Kerala

IAS officer Navjot Khosa who is DM Thiruvananthapuram, and IAS officer Mrunmayee Joshi, DM Palakkad, were recognised for their work as the ‘Best District Collectors’ during the Revenue Day celebrations by Kerala government.

IAS officer Ms. Bhandari Swagat Ranveer, serving as Kasaragod District Collector, is already getting recognition for her path breaking works as the first woman Collector of the district. She is a native of Maharashtra and ranked 66th in the 2010 CSE.

Before joining as Collector, she was the Director of Department of Industry and Commerce. She was also the Managing Director of Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited, Deputy Secretary of Planning and Finance Department, Director of Scheduled Tribes Department, Director of Lottery Department and Fort Kochi Sub-Collector.

Dr P K Jayasree, a native of Thrissur, who is currently serving as DM Kottayam, became an officer in the department of agriculture in 1987. She holds a doctorate in Agronomy. Ms. Jayasree served as Deputy Collector of Kasargod in 2007 and Thrissur in 2012. She was named as the ‘Best District Collector’ during her tenures there.

Sheeba George currently serving as the Collector of Idukki district has had a long career in working for women’s issues and has held various posts, such as the Chief Executive Officer of the Gender Park in Thiruvananthapuram and the State Coordinator of the Nirbhaya Cell. She was also the state Commissioner of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Dr A Geetha, DM Wayanad, was formerly the Entrance Examination Commissioner. The officer is determined to complete development works in the district in a time bound manner. Issues of the public would also be addressed in a time bound manner. Ms. Geetha is a 2014-batch IAS officer who has held several posts earlier and, also, served as the Deputy Collector in Kollam.

With its formidable women army, the state of Kerala is already creating a record of sorts and seems further set to create more new groundbreaking records.

Indian Masterminds wishes its viewers a very Happy Women’s Day!


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