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Policewomen: A Comprehensive Exploration

Playing a crucial role in investigations, community engagement, and order maintenance, policewomen in India go beyond mere representation. They uphold their communities as trustworthy guardians, contributing to the creation of a fair and just society. The current count of 2,46,103 policewomen, comprising 11.75% of the national law enforcement workforce, serves as a vital step forward, but gender balance remains a persistent challenge. Needless barriers such as societal norms, entrenched biases, and systemic obstacles still pose major challenges that hinder their growth, promotion, and recognition.

Absence of women in high-ranking police positions highlights how gender-based discrimination impedes their progress. Skewed posting policies, unfriendly working conditions, ramshackle barracks, non-availability of housing facilities, and marginalization from significant roles all compound the difficulties women encounter in the field of law enforcement. The poor representation of policewomen can be gauged from the number of policewomen heading the State, Police Commissionerate, District, Sub-division and Police Station.

The presence of women in Indian law enforcement transcends symbolic representation, with their unwavering commitment evident across diverse policing areas. They play a crucial role in operations, providing invaluable support through investigative measures, community engagement, and maintaining order. Beyond policing scenarios, these women serve as reliable pillars in local neighbourhoods, fostering security and serenity.

Their compassionate approach bridges the gap between law enforcement and the public, fostering trust. Precision is paramount as they uphold laws, contributing to the integrity of the legal system. With a total of 2,46,103 policewomen on 01.01.2022, Uttar Pradesh leads in numbers, reflecting a 13.4% increase from 2020. The overall proportion of policewomen in the national workforce is 11.75%, with a Women Population per Women Police ratio of 2,706.33. Despite progress, women constitute only 11.7% of India's state police force, and no state has achieved its female reservation benchmark. Moreover, only 8.7% of higher police ranks are held by women. These statistics underscore the need for continued efforts to enhance diversity and inclusivity in law enforcement for overall effectiveness and responsiveness.

Entry of Policewomen
The inclusion of women in the police force emerged as a response to societal issues marked by violence, including crimes against women, individual violence, and child abuse. The goal was to enhance protective measures for girls and contribute to community safety. In feudal or semi-feudal societies, masculinity often dominates, excluding women from leadership and decision-making roles, leaving them dependent. Policing and criminal justice have traditionally been male-reserved domains. Women in policing have played crucial roles politically, socially, economically, and psychologically for over half a century. The physical demands of police work, including strict regimentation, night shifts, and facing unruly crowds, create significant stress.

Female police managers navigate these challenges along with traditional family responsibilities, highlighting the need for a family-friendly workplace. However, the absence of flexible working hours and childcare facilities underscores the lack of family-friendly practices in this traditionally male-dominated work culture. Many experts such as Burke (1999) have in recent years advocated for the concept of a family friendly workplace. Yet, there is a lack of certainty regarding the contribution of family friendly practices in helping employees, especially women, who juggle between family obligations and official duties. Flexible working hours schemes and provision of childcare facilities are absent in most jobs. The notion of family is absent in this traditionally male-dominated work culture.

Advantages of having Policewomen
The involvement of policewomen in law enforcement brings numerous advantages, including a tendency towards lesser violence compared to male officers. Policewomen excel in handling child abuse, violence against women, and sexual crimes, emphasizing the need for diverse perspectives in criminal justice. Policewomen foster a more comfortable environment for victims, with even notorious criminals calming down in their presence. Complaints of custodial torture against policewomen are almost negligible as compared to their male counterparts.

They exhibit less condescension and bias, particularly against poor citizens, minorities and backward communities. Policewomen significantly impact policing and community relations by building trust, reducing complaints and lawsuits. Their problem-solving skills enhance investigative capacity, resulting in more efficient and sophisticated crime resolution, especially in cases of sexual abuse. The characteristics of policewomen contribute to creating a balanced, compassionate, and efficient justice system.

Research by Bell in 1982 confirmed women's competence and effectiveness as police officers. They've shown they can handle potential violence, talk to the public, and use methods more beneficial than sheer strength of male policemen. Facts suggest that policewomen surpass policemen at deescalating family disputes. A 1985 study by Homant and Kennedy noted policewomen's higher levels of concern, care, patience, and empathy in these situations. In 1987, Ott observed that the idea of female cops is often rejected by males, due to societal stereotypes that categorize policing as a man's work. A 1990 study by Hunt revealed that policewomen often introduce a culture of reformation rooted in caring and sensitivity to the force. Sherman (1975) asserts that the involvement of women in the police force significantly shapes politics, society, economy, and mental aspects.

Total Actual Strength of Women Police from 2016 to 2021 (Civil + District Armed Reserve + Special Armed + IRB)


Since 2016, India has witnessed a remarkable upswing in policewomen recruits, indicating a meaningful commitment to gender integration in the police force. With a significant surge in numbers from 140,154 in 2016 to 246,103 in 2021, it is evident that active steps implemented to foster gender diversity are paying off. Increased cognizance, campaigns for gender equality, and recruitment initiatives have all served as key drivers behind this trend. For policewomen to thrive in the workplace, they require ongoing encouragement and support, despite recent strides.

Even though it is evident that better methods for increasing women's involvement in law enforcement exist, the presence of prejudices and gender roles is still felt. It is vital to focus on diversity, efficacy, and inclusivity within the police force to continue making progress.

Strength of Women Police and Percentage of Women Police as on 01.01.2022 TABLE-1

Sl.No. States/Uts Actual Strength Of total Police (Civil+District armed reserve (Dar)+Armed+Irb) Actual Strength Of women Police (Civil +District armed reserve (Dar)+Armed+Irb) Percentage Of Women police(Civil+District armed reserve (Dar)+Armed+Irb)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
1 Andhra Pradesh 88,689 19,299 21.76%
2 Arunachal Pradesh 12,100 1,290 10.66%
3 Assam 61,868 4,191 6.77%
4 Bihar 93,313 19,790 21.21%
5 Chhattisgarh 64,573 4,576 7.09%
6 Goa 7,903 835 10.57%
7 Gujarat 89,846 14,681 16.34%
8 Haryana 59,078 4,829 8.17%
9 Himachal Pradesh 17,133 2,404 14.03%
10 Jharkhand 63,077 3,880 6.15%
11 Karnataka 95,516 8,240 8.63%
12 Kerala 53,216 4,142 7.78%
13 Madhya Pradesh 1,03,642 7,656 7.39%
14 Maharashtra 1,70,570 30,432 17.84%
15 Manipur 28,631 1,962 6.85%
16 Meghalaya 13,881 826 5.95%
17 Mizoram 7,567 540 7.14%
18 Nagaland 26,201 2,599 9.92%
19 Odisha 56,227 5,909 10.51%
20 Punjab 72,210 7,117 9.86%
21 Rajasthan 96,058 9,996 10.41%
22 Sikkim 5,868 531 9.05%
23 Tamil Nadu 1,18,057 22,547 19.10%
24 Telangana 62,731 5,349 8.53%
25 Tripura 21,990 1,164 5.29%
26 Uttar Pradesh 3,10,955 33,425 10.75%
27 Uttarakhand 20,359 2,602 12.78%
28 West Bengal 96,104 9,558 9.95%
29 A&N Islands 4,331 548 12.65%
30 Chandigarh 5,903 1,275 21.60%
31 Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu 1,179 104 8.82%
32 Delhi 79,489 10,228 12.87%
33 Jammu and Kashmir 79,464 2,598 3.27%
34 Ladakh 2,452 695 28.34%
35 Lakshadweep 262 27 10.31%
36 Puducherry 3,390 258 7.61%
  All India 20,93,833 2,46,103 11.75%

Throughout different states and union territories of India, data presents an overview of female policewoman representation and distribution. Out of all states, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Chandigarh show higher proportions of women compared to the national average of 11.75%. A distinctive number of 28.34% stands out in Ladakh, highlighting a positive trend in female involvement.

However, Jammu and Kashmir depicts less representation with only 3.27%. Gender equity concerns are evident from the discrepancies, highlighting the necessity for specific measures to boost female participation in law enforcement groups around the country. Policymakers must take into account these differences while executing policies to encourage gender variety and equity enhancements in the Indian police.

Reservation of Women Police and Women Police Population Per Women Police TABLE-2

Sl.No. States/Uts Reservation percentage of Women Police approved By states/Uts govt. Women Population in thousands
(As On 1st October, 2020-2021)
Based on 2011 census
Women Population Per Women Police
(1) (2) (6) (7) (8)
1 Andhra Pradesh 33.30% 26,441 1,370.07
2 Arunachal Pradesh 10.00% 748 579.84
3 Assam 30.00% 17,300 4,127.89
4 Bihar 30.00% 59,602 3,011.72
5 Chhattisgarh 0.00% 14,799 3,234.05
6 Goa 33.00% 775 928.14
7 Gujarat 33.00% 33,417 2,276.21
8 Haryana 33.00% 13,966 2,892.11
9 Himachal Pradesh 25.00% 3,655 1,520.38
10 Jharkhand 0.00% 18,917 4,875.52
11 Karnataka 33.00% 33,055 4,011.53
12 Kerala 30.00% 18,489 4,463.79
13 Madhya Pradesh NA 41,211 5,382.84
14 Maharashtra 10.00% 60,001 1,971.64
15 Manipur 0.00% 1,583 806.83
16 Meghalaya 33.00% 1,648 1,995.16
17 Mizoram 33.00% 605 1,120.37
18 Nagaland 30.00% 1,065 409.77
19 Odisha 33.00% 22,782 3,855.47
20 Punjab 30.00% 14,454 2,030.91
21 Rajasthan 10.00% 38,781 3,879.65
22 Sikkim 20.00% 321 604.52
23 Tamil Nadu 30.00% 38,314 1,699.29
24 Telangana 33.00% 18,794 3,513.55
25 Tripura 33.00% 2,010 1,726.80
26 Uttar Pradesh 33.00% 1,11,259 3,328.62
27 Uttarakhand 33.00% 5,592 2,149.12
28 West Bengal 0.00% 48,182 5,041.01
29 A&N Islands 0.00% 189 344.89
30 Chandigarh 33.00% 558 437.65
31 Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu 33.00% 398 3,826.92
32 Delhi 33.00% 9,721 950.43
33 Jammu and Kashmir 0.00% 6,408 2,466.51
34 Ladakh 0.00% 131 188.49
35 Lakshadweep 33.00% 33 1,222.22
36 Puducherry 33.00% 831 3,220.93
  All India - 6,66,035 2,706.33

Gender disparity within the police force in India is approached differently across different states and union territories, with varying degrees of reservation percentages for women. Some states, like Bihar, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal and others don't have reservation policies for policewomen. However, states like Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha, have reserved seats for policewomen though varying in overall percentage. It means we need a better plan to fight gender inequality. Part of this plan should include looking closely at reservation policies and consider how culture and society affect these policies.

Regional investigations, which take into consideration the realities on the ground, are of utmost importance. Discrepancies between resources and population indicate that integrating women into law enforcement is more efficient in some states like Delhi and Maharashtra, while Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh raise concerns about WPWP ratios. An examination of gender equality in the police force, which involves reviewing reservation policies, implementation of reservation policies and WPWP ratios, is necessary to improve overall management of crime and number of policewomen throughout the country.
Contribution of Policewomen 
Policewomen embody compassion and empathy and help in ensuring and securing communities’ safety and peace. They add real value by exploiting their specialized skills and distinctive views. These additions come in various forms including investigating and being part of the communities. Apart from enforcing laws exactly, these are the women who build the bridges of trust between police and civilians focusing on community-based peacemaking aimed at strengthened community security.

They are extremely important in ensuring that the integrity and efficacy of the criminal justice system. Women show zeal and are vital to running a legal system and upholding the law. This further highlights the need for diversity within law enforcement organizations whose employees take part actively in encouraging an attitude of inclusivity. These flexible environments therefore cater to the community adequately and contribute immensely to social welfare than just the mere picture. Through participating in different spheres of the law enforcement and remaining faithful and fair, women eventually enhance safe environment in society and equal justice.
Problems Faced by Policewomen 
In India, policewomen encounter a range of obstacles caused by ingrained gender biases and institutional problems. Discrimination and stereotypes often prevent policewomen from accessing opportunities for professional advancement and acknowledgement, which is evident in the scarcity of women occupying high-ranking and important positions within law enforcement agencies. Inadequate facilities, such as secure locations within police stations, only exacerbate the situation.

Emotional distress can also arise from sporadic contact with family members, particularly when working in distant locations. Policewomen are further hampered by various challenges, including issues with family and childcare, meagre strength in comparison to male colleagues, irregular recruitment to fill up the vacancies, poor food quality in mess, no provision for annual medical check up and psychological counselling, skewed promotion policy, homesickness, place of posting being far away from home, odd duty hours, shortage of vehicles and barracks, lack of housing facilities, jeers by male colleagues, deployment with male police personnel without the presence of any other policewoman, pressure of looking after family and children, and a lack of appropriate infrastructure at work with some police units not having proper washroom for police women.

The situation worsens when policewomen are deputed for field duty where it is difficult to find food or a suitable washroom for them. These difficulties can lead to family conflicts due to irregular work schedules and inadequate support systems.

Stress and burnouts among policewomen in the Indian police force can be traced back to inadequate mental health education. Addressing these obstacles calls for adjustments to policies, specialized training sessions that consider gender, and better resources for support. The lacking provision of proper protective gear for policewomen only adds to the problem. Studies indicate that policewomen opt out of advancement opportunities most likely because of the sacrifices they would have to make. Not only that, but they also frequently experience discrimination and disrespect from their male colleagues, making it harder for them to serve in diverse police functions.
According to Young (1991), male officers in the police may belittle their female counterparts, doubting their professional abilities and trying to dominate them. Unfortunately, as Wilkinsons and Froyland (1996) observe, for women seeking to climb the ranks and occupy higher posts, there may be significant personal costs associated with such a promotion. The findings of Brown and Campbell's (1991) study, exploring the work of female officers in Hampshire Constabulary, suggest that women in the force often end up on foot or in cars, policing in limited ways that don't offer much of a chance to get involved in responsible roles, such as managing detainees, patrolling the coast, regulating traffic, or working with dogs or in aviation.

Actual Strength of Policewomen in Civil Police in States/UTs As On 01.01.2022

Sl.No.  States/Uts Inspector/Ri S.I./Rsi A.S.I./Arsi Head Con-Stable Consta-Ble Others Ifany Total
(1) (2) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16)
1 Andhra Pradesh 32 224 232 299 2,588 19,797 18,995
2 Arunachal Pradesh 26 23 4 61 857 68 1,045
3 Assam 31 264 22 20 1,872 1 2,255
4 Bihar 26 1,597 224 20 3,925 0 5,840
5 Chhattisgarh 100 152 238 494 2,961 12 4,045
6 Goa 8 60 95 54 313 86 620
7 Gujarat 108 423 890 1,156 7,414 0 10,038
8 Haryana 84 258 660 800 2,979 0 4,812
9 Himachal Pradesh 15 24 38 78 1,313 0 1,479
10 Jharkhand 44 227 211 205 1,286 118 2,102
11 Karnataka 74 634 213 1,395 5,702 0 8,091
12 Kerala 22 81 - 100 3,082 0 3,295
13 Madhya Pradesh 354 1,017 497 588 4,047 826 7,533
14 Maharashtra 316 1,570 290 2,985 21,397 542 27,236
15 Manipur 7 97 27 186 1,012 0 1,350
16 Meghalaya 12 82 8 35 289 0 435
17 Mizoram 54 100 58 142 141 0 503
18 Nagaland 19 35 46 30 634 0 770
19 Odisha 275 484 330 10 2,956 0 4,139
20 Punjab 107 383 142 385 5,305 446 6,827
21 Rajasthan 114 250 113 487 7,418 0 8,499
22 Sikkim 15 7 22 83 378 1 531
23 Tamil Nadu 1,126 982 Nil 5,229 7,768 380 15,581
24 Telangana 33 372 187 166 3,065 0 3,877
25 Tripura 1 68 22 42 974 0 1,121
26 Uttar Pradesh 279 1,296 170 1,282 29,328 959 33,420
27 Uttarakhand 21 255 - 48 1,919 0 2,267
28 West Bengal 57 466 457 - 8,440 0 9,489
29 A&N Islands 11 16 25 40 372 15,580 489
30 Chandigarh 16 11 14 120 959 24 1,127
31 Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu 0 9 - 11 82 0 104
32 Delhi 107 1,051 606 710 7,038 2 9,773
33 Jammu and Kashmir 37 57 14 185 561 214 1,022
34 Ladakh 1 7 2 14 69 168 463
35 Lakshadweep 0 - - 6 21 370 27
36 Puducherry - 11 - 38 151 0 204
  All India 3,532 12,593 5,857 17,504 1,38,616 19,797 1,99,404

The table presents a breakdown of policewomen by lower ranks across states and union territories in India. Larger states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal have higher figures, with a national strength of 1,99,404. Constables (1,38,616) constitute a significant portion, emphasizing their frontline role in law enforcement. States like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have a substantial number of constables, showcasing a robust grassroots workforce. Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat show a notable presence of inspectors and sub-inspectors, indicating a strong leadership structure. Some regions, like Kerala and Chandigarh, lack certain ranks, possibly due to unique organizational structures. Non-uniform distribution highlights the diverse requirements and strategies of states, necessitating tailored approaches in policewomen management.
The call for modern day police leadership extends beyond tokenism towards genuine policewomen integration, necessitating equality in opportunity and postings free from gender-based assumptions. Radical reforms are essential to eradicate constraints on policewomen, fostering their active participation in all aspects of law enforcement including important assignments like CP, SP, SDPO, OC/SHO etc.

The other challenges faced by policewomen such as inadequate number, insufficient and unsuitable barracks, lack of family housing facilities, poor working conditions, distant postings, odd duty hours, skewed promotion policy, sexual harassment, to work alone in the company of male counterparts in the absence of any female colleague, absence of washroom for women at the place of duty, unavailability of cloakroom at the workplace, shortage of vehicles, long absence from work during pre and post-natal period, demands of family and children, so called insignificant postings, and discrimination by male peers etc require urgent attention. Adequate housing facilities, a women-friendly environment, and provisions at the workplace are crucial.

Women's contributions to diverse approaches in maintaining law and order, combating gender violence and crimes against women and children emphasize the need for significant roles and effective reforms in policing. A proper plan to look into the problems of policewomen matched by generous investment in this regard is needed along with filling up the vacancies and increasing their overall numerical strength. The training curriculum should also be made friendly to policewomen keeping their special requirements in mind.


  1. Drishti IAS. (2023, October 3). Empowering women in Indian. URL:
  2. Data on Police Organizations as of January 01, 2022, BPRD, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  3. The Tribune. (2021, March 22). Let's ensure a central role for women in the police. URL:
  4. Sabat, S.N. and Mishra, S. (2010) ‘Role of women in the management of police organisation: a paradigm shift’, Int. J. Learning and Change, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.365–377
  5. University of San Diego. (n.d.). Women in Law Enforcement. URL:
  6. Interview with Women Police Personnel of West Bengal Police, March-November, 2023.
  7. Sherman, L. J. (1975). Evaluation of policewomen on patrol in a suburban police department. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 3(4), 434–438.
  8. Burke, R. (1999). Are families a career liability? Women in Management Review, 14(5), 159–163.
  9. Burke, R. J., & McKeen, C. A. (1994). Career development among managerial and professional women. In M. J. Davidson & R. J. Burke (Eds.), Women in Management: Current Research Issues (pp. 65–79). Paul Chapman Publishing, London.
  10. Brown, J., & Campbell, E. A. (1991). Less than equal. Policing, 7, 324–333.
  11. Wilkinson, V., & Froyland, I. D. (1996). Women in policing. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, 58. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.
  12. Young, M. (1991). An Inside Job: Policing and Police Culture in Britain. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  13. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. (2021, March 24). Rajya Sabha Unstarred Question No. 3266.
  14. Bell, D.J. (1982)‘Police women:mythsandreality’, Journal of Police Science and Administration, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.112–120.
  15. Homant, R.J. and Kennedy, D.B. (1985) ‘Police perception of spouse abuse: a comparison of male and female officers’, Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.29–47.
  16. Hunt,J.(1990)‘Thelogicofsexismamongpolice’,WomenandCriminalJustice,Vol.2, pp.3–30.
  17. Ott,M.E.(1987)‘Effectsofthemale-femaleratioatwork:policewomenandmalenurses’, PsychologyofWomenQuarterly,Vol.13,pp.41–57.
  18. Sherman,L.J.(1975)‘Evaluationofpolicewomenonpatrolinasuburbanpolicedepartment’, JournalofPoliceScienceandAdministration,Vol.3, No.4, pp.434–438.

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