Kerala becomes the first State in India to have women District Collectors in nine of its 14 districts, serving as an example to the rest of India.
It was on July 19 that the second Pinarayi government appointed women collectors in 8 districts. Recently, a new woman collector Afsana Parveen for Kollam District was appointed, bringing the total number of women in-charge of district administrations in the State to around two-third. Thus, nine out of 14 districts in Kerala now have women collectors.
Speaking to reporters on September 29, K. Rajan, State Revenue Minister supported the government’s decision and said that the women are doing exceedingly well and State is proud of them. He was optimistic that this decision would also improve women empowerment in the State.
Abdul Nasser was replaced as Kollam Collector by Afsana, who is now the Director of the Employment Guarantee Mission. A. Geetha took over as Director of the Women and Child Welfare Department after Wayanad Collector Adeela Abdulla was promoted. Dr. Navjot Khosa is the collector in Thiruvananthapuram, and Bhandari Swagath Raveer Chand is the collector in Kasargod. The other collectors are Dr. Divya S. Iyyer in Pathanamthitta, Dr. P. K. Jayashree in Kottayam, Sheeba George in Idukki, Haritha V. Kumar in Thrissur and Mrinmayi Joshi in Palakkad.
People had various opinion regarding this unique achievement by the State. Joshwa D’Souza, a PUC lecturer said, “It’s such a wonderful thing to hear. We have never had a majority of district collectors in any Indian State being women. It will undoubtedly motivate more women to become administrators, people’s representatives and bureaucrats. Yes, more men will act rationally and responsibly as a result of this.”
Antony, a student states that there are some definition we attribute to women such as mother, friend, daughter, etc. “To disprove this only notion, look no further than God’s own country, Kerala, where nine of the fourteen district collectors are brilliant and bold women. This truly is inspiring to many women out there.”
Aishwarya Pradeep, Assistant Professor, Marian College, Kuttikkanam explained that she is delighted to hear that nine of the fourteen collectors are women. “However, I believe it is too early to make judgements on them at this time because they have just recently assumed power, and we must wait to see if the situation for women improves in the State. I believe it is good to judge them after they have done something. There are chances that there might not be any change once they have come into power. Kerala is a patriarchal State, and it is not easy to bring changes that easily be it improving women’s status or living condition. But I really hope that some changes happen in the future,” said Pradeep.
Rini Venukuttan, a second year post graduate student in English Literature opined that those who question women’s ability to lead and rule, this is a powerful reply. “Even today, in some parts of India, education remains as a dream for women who are confined to the four walls of their homes. Treat and educate women or girls the same way you would to your sons. These women are true inspiration for many to step outside of their comfort zones and chase their dreams,” she added.
Aswin Ravikumar, Category Buyer, Jazp.com said, “Women have already proven their excellence in administration and maintaining law and order. Although this is an incredible achievement, gender parity still has to improve. Also, when it comes to power, there should be no gender divide. At the same time, we have witnessed the worst from our authorities, regardless of gender. Only time will tell what the future holds.”
Seema Devadiga lauded the achievements of Kerala’s women collectors. This sends a powerful message to women that, ‘Yes, we can do it!’ I would just tell to every woman in India that we have a lot of things to accomplish and we can’t just sit in one place and think if we can do it or not. We have to go after it. Let us make it clear that if these women have stood up for their dreams, their State’s dreams, and their country’s dreams, why shouldn’t we stand for our’s? “I now believe I am capable of far more than my own limit. I am extremely delighted to see these 9 district collectors who have done tremendous job,” she added.
Merlin Thankam Mathew, a Post Graduate B.Ed Trainee stated that she could sense and perceive the change within us and the system. “It soothed my ears when I heard about the empowering decision of our State but the very next moment my mind was filled with thoughts whether there will be a transformation or resurrection of empowered minds,” she said.
These were some of the responses from people on the remarkable accomplishment by the State of Kerala. The rise of women in political and administrative positions is a strong indication that women are breaking through gender barriers in a number of sectors. Though the State now has 9 district collectors, it should be also recalled that women continue to be underrepresented in the Kerala Assembly. In the present House of 140 MLAs, there are only 11 women. This should be rectified.
Change is essential, and it must begin with oneself, so that every woman can be represented equally in all sectors. The rise of women in political and administrative positions is a strong indication of women breaking through gender barriers. However, many believe that true gender parity in a patriarchal society has still a long way to go.