Gender sensitivity training starts with India’s largest police force

Workshops have begun with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to bring them resilience and help them become more open towards gender equality. In collaboration with the Center for Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality (CWEGE), the initiatives are planned for the next two years and will reach about 25,000 officers.

The CRPF’s mission is to enable the Indian government to maintain rule of law, public order and internal security. As the country’s largest police force, it has 246 battalions with more than 300,000 personnel. The CWEGE training has started in Kashmir, which is a contentious region due to its proximity to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

Madam Charu Sinha is an Inspector General with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and currently in charge of the Srinagar Sector in Kashmir. She is the first woman to proudly hold this position and is known as both a military officer and an officer with heart.

Sinha has been with the IPS for more than 25 years and shares how she has had instances where she felt a lack of acknowledgement and acceptance towards women in the field. This resistance led her to pioneer ways to remove the question mark placed upon women’s capabilities as police.

“I am really proud and happy to say that the Amrita team has done miracles with the master trainers,” said Sinha.

“I have seen that the level of resistance has come down drastically. They were open, they were listening, they were contemplating and they were actually churning an idea in their minds. They were coming back with a very, very positive approach, and I am really grateful for that.”

Factors for both genders include patterns in the working culture, such as the time and distance that officers must take from their families when stationed and a high suicide rate in the military service.

The Gender Conversation Workshops take a multi-factor approach, addressing the issues of gender equality, masculinity, and mental health at the individual, household, and community levels. The ultimate purpose is to support the wellbeing of the CRPF service men and women and improve their overall morale. In addition, it includes how to maintain healthy dialogue with their families, which also promotes them as positive role models at the community level.

“The mental health sessions—which began with exploring perceptions about how our culture, education, training and past influence our behaviour—turned out to be an eye opener and brought about a marked change in their perspective and interactions instantly,” explains Radhika Shetty, a trainer with CWEGE.

“At the end of the day when we'd have one-on-one sessions with them, they would even openly share with us their deepest fears of how death looms large and uncertainty is something they wake up with everyday.”

The workshop series is split into two major sections:

1. Mental wellness and overall well-being

Includes several mental health sessions to strengthen resilience and help develop lasting mental strength. Amrita offers research-supported tools to assist in understanding how the mind works and how to manage it. Participants learn how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors interact and how our desires and expectations of others can make the difference between a life of happiness or of distress. The IAM Meditation Technique and personal reflection activities are also taught to help develop inner peace.

2. Gender sensitization

Covers a range of topics such as masculinity reflections, improving family dynamics and health, and shared financial decision-making.

Family Wellbeing: designed to bring together and discuss various aspects of family, including fostering engagement among members, introspection to understand the role of being an ideal human being in building a functional family, gender at home and work, systematic self-reflection in resolving conflicts, and encouraging gender-inclusive decision-making within the family.

Masculinity Reflections: aims to inspire the participants to discuss masculinity and talk about what it means to be a man in India, as well as men’s responsibility to ensure social harmony. The activities slowly introduce topics to discuss these issues and come up with solutions to help participants become happier in their family lives. Obviously, this would bring support to their family members, as well.

Financial Literacy: offers a specific inclusive approach to financial decision-making to enhance its performance and support family well-being. Indeed, this workshop demonstrates that the participation of family members in money management is a constructive and helpful practice to spend wisely while contributing to the family’s overall harmony.

“Before the training, we were wondering how the officers would take to our mental health and gender sensitization training intervention. Once it started, we could observe that the officers and jawans were absorbing the training like a sponge,” says Ajay Balakrishnan, CWEGE’s project lead.

“Stress is very real to them. It is beyond what a regular human being experiences. Once they saw the benefits, they took the leap to master the skills. Their positive attitude and humility enabled them to benefit from the course.”

Photo 1:  CRPF Gender Workshop Trainees along with the mentors from CWEGE.

Photo 2: The CRPF is India’s largest police force whose mission is to enable the Indian government to maintain rule of law, public order and internal security.

Photo 3: India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, was the Chief Guest at CRPF’s 82nd anniversary celebrations this year.

Photo 4: India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, was the Chief Guest at CRPF’s 82nd anniversary celebrations this year.

Photo 5: On International Women’s Day, Dr Rao also celebrated with families of the soldiers.

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