Ten out of 14 districts of Kerala will now be run by women as the state gets a majority female representation in the top brass of the administration in a welcome move for women in public service. With Dr Renu Raj set to take charge of Alappuzha, Kerala now has 10 district collectors – all women – a rare feat in a country that has seen less representation of women as compared to men in politics, civil services, defence and several other key fields.
With this, roughly two-thirds of the state’s administration is being led by women. While the reservation for women in the state Assembly was 33 percent, women collectors now constitute 71.4 percent in administrative services in Kerala.
The other women district collectors of Kerala are Haritha V Kumar (Thrissur), Divya S Iyer (Pathanamthitta), Afsana Parveen (Kollam), Sheeba George (Idukki), Dr PK Jayasree (Kottayam), Bhandari Swagat Ranveer Chand (Kasaragod), Navjot Khosa (Thiruvananthapuram), Mrunmayee Joshi (Palakkad) and Dr A Geetha (Wayanad).
35-year-old Dr Renu Raj, who will take over Alappuzha on March 2, is a doctor by profession who cleared her UPSC examinations in 2015, bagging the second rank in just her first attempt. This is her first posting as a District Collector.
Like Renu Raj, almost all of the district collectors are relatively young; they are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
In the 2020 local body elections, Kerala women strode to victory bagging more than 50 percent seats. This was no mean feat as the country (and the state) is traditionally rooted in patriarchy.
This is evident from the fact that Kerala just has only 11 women among 140 MLAs. However, three of the 11 are ministers in the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet.