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“We are leaders and change makers. Value the opportunity to serve and make it count,” says Rema Rajeswari, the female IPS officer making great strides in creating a sensitive, proactive police force.
Rema Rajeshwari grew up with her grandmother among the ethereal mountains and tea estates of Munnar. She was fascinated as a child by the stories of British civil servants during the Raj and had decided at that young age that she wanted to be in the civil services too.
As is the case with many women in India, even today, her family was not very supportive. “When I decided that I wanted to be an IPS officer, the response that I got was absolutely negative. My own parents didn’t believe in me. I quit my job as a software engineer and lived in Delhi as a copyeditor to support my education. My parents were ashamed to introduce me. But ultimately, I just went ahead and got through the exams,” she narrates.
However, becoming an IPS officer was not the end game for this intrepid young woman. Through various creative initiatives that encourage the police to collaborate with civilians, she has created a better model for what policing can me.
Some of her initiatives include:
Her initiative to fight against fake news earned her great recognition last year. She creatively used folk singers and drummers to educate villagers about the dangers of spreading WhatsApp messages without verification, as this video shows.
She also writes for leading publications, and advocates for having more women in the police force.
Rema Rajeshwari has been awarded the prestigious Devi National Award, which is given to women who have contributed to society in an innovative manner. She was also part of Yale University’s 2017 World Fellows global leadership programme.
Policing in India is fraught with problems ranging from lack of resources to politicization. The result is an environment of deep distrust between the police and the public. While larger initiatives are in the hands of the Government, Rema Rajeshwari has shown that within their own sphere of influence, police officers can make some great changes.
The theme of International Women’s Day, 2019, which falls on March 8th, is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. #IWD2019
With women still a minority in science, technology & related innovation, it’s time to shine a spotlight on female innovation champions! Enjoy our Women Innovators Around The World series, where we profile 19 inspiring women innovators, from 19 countries, whose work has a big social impact.
Want to know what other innovations women around the world have pioneered? Read about Brenda Katwesigye here.
Image source: YouTube
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