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What the article is about?
- Talks about the achievements of women in civil services and discussing the way ahead.
Syllabus: GS-II Gender equality, Social justice, Higher education; GS-IV Civil service
Women at the top:
- Taking another step towards equity, three women, Shruti Sharma, Ankita Agarwal and Gamini Singla, secured the first, second and third ranks, respectively, in the 2021 Civil Services examinations conducted by the UPSC.
- Considered one of the toughest examinations to crack, the girls emerged successfully at the top in their second attempt, and in the case of the second-ranker, in her third try.
- All three women agreed that it was a long, difficult and challenging journey.
- With 10 of the top 25 rank-holders being women, there is a lot to celebrate — and ponder over.
- According to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education report, published by the Ministry of Education for 2019-2020, the gross enrolment ratio in higher education for the female population is 27.3%, compared to 26.9% for males.
- In this backdrop, women comprised only 26% — or 177 — of the total of 685 candidates recommended by the UPSC for appointment to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Central Services, Group A and B.
- This skewed statistic must change because public service offers a unique opportunity to bring about social change, and women can drive this, especially in a country where girls often have to drop out of school for a variety of reasons, from poverty, early marriage to lack of toilets.
- It has been a hard-fought battle for women to come this far in the IAS, and sometimes a trickier road awaits them once inside the steel framework of the ad- ministrative setup.
- If three women are at the top today, they have a lot to thank trailblazers such as Anna Rajam Malhotra (née George), the ﬁrst woman to join the Indian Administrative Service in 1951, or C.B. Muthamma, the ﬁrst woman to join the IFS in 1948 who fought a landmark case in the Supreme Court of India when she was looked over for a promotion for Ambassador, or even Anita Kaul who worked tirelessly to champion the Right to Education Act 2009 which made education a fundamental right for every child.
- The early part of a civil servant’s career is usually spent in rural or semi-urban India, giving her a vantage point over issues including women’s health, literacy, economic independence, caste and gender disparities that are in need of reforms or policy intervention but are often overlooked due to lack of a proper understanding. To achieve this, education is the key.
- Also, if civil service has to represent all sections of the population, of which half are women, their representation in the services too must increase at all levels of the bureaucracy, starting with the highest rung.