New Delhi: The SSB women personnel on the frontiers have got much-needed gender-friendly facilities with the border-guarding force providing them with private barrack cubicles and sanitary pad incinerators for the first time.
As part of the initiative to ensure better working conditions for the female staffers, the paramilitary force has also ordered procurement of suitable and body-fit size protectors, bullet-proof vests, helmets, shoes and raincoats for women troops on combat duties.
The Sashastra Seema Bal, guarding the Indo-Nepal and the Indo-Bhutan borders on the country's east, has also modified toilets in the border areas to ensure privacy for women, who often work odd hours due to the nature of their duties.
"We have created some separate living blocks for women troopers in the barracks at their place of posting in the border areas," Archana Ramasundaram, Director General, SSB, told PTI.
The paramilitary force has been working on the idea for about a year, said the DG, adding the gender-friendly infrastructure is now getting in place for the first time.
"At all the locations where women are posted or deployed, sanitary napkin dispensers and incinerators have been installed," she said.
For the first time a paramilitary force has created such separate facilities for its women personnel deployed in the far-flung frontier areas.
The SSB DG added, the force will recruit more women personnel to achieve the target of 15 per cent women strength, as per government directions.
The (SSB), in 2007, was the first paramilitary force to recruit women in combat ranks as constables and has close to 1,200 women personnel in the 'khaki' at present.
A national survey conducted among the serving women security personnel last year had found that they are grappling with issues like lack of basic amenities - including toilets, uncomfortable duty gear, and privacy.
The survey, conducted by 1990-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IPS officer Renuka Mishra, had also found that women personnel opted to go thirsty for long hours as they feared if they needed to relieve themselves they would hardly find any toilets around.
The survey also pointed that the bullet-proof or body protection vests provided to the women personnel were so heavy and tight they cause breathlessness, as they are made as per the physical requirements of a male body.
It also said that it was hard for them to find a proper place to wash their clothes and dry undergarments while on job.
Ms Ramasundaram, the first woman chief of a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) or paramilitary, added that their focus is now to get separate toilets for women at these locations and it will be done in the future.
At the jawan barracks in border areas, a senior SSB officer said, separate entries have already been created for female personnel as they are co-deployed with their men colleagues.
"A washing machine has been provided in every unit accommodation of women personnel and pulley-based drying racks have been installed so that the women can easily dry their intimate and other clothings in the barrack area," the officer added.
As it was difficult to get sanitary pads in the area of deployment, the force has installed dispensers, replenished every few weeks, and incinerators as sweepers would desist from picking up the used ones, the officer added.
The force has also got the Union Home Ministry's sanctions to have special buses having in-built toilets for exclusive use by women personnel on duty, the officer said.
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