Row over post for which `women need not apply’

March 20th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by admin  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 20 (IANS) A recent advertisement inviting applications for six posts of ‘village extension officers’ (VEO) at Pathanamthitta district in Kerala has sparked a row as it said women need not apply. The VEO posts are attached to the commissionerate of rural development in the local self-government of the Kerala government.

T.N. Seema, member of the Communist Party of India - Marxist state committee, told IANS that this was a clear case of gender discrimination.

“Women can’t apply for this post and instead they can apply for the post of Lady VEO only. In fact the job that both the VEO and Lady VEO do is the same. Moreover the promotion scope for Lady VEO is limited, while VEOs get promotion quickly. This is totally unfair,” said Seema.

Now the state government is planning to integrate both posts so that no discrimination takes place.

A. Ajithkumar, commissioner of rural development, said that it is now just a matter of time before the lacuna is removed.

“The rules are to be amended and soon women will have no reason to be upset. There will be only one post and it would be VEO wherein both men and women can apply,” said Ajithkumar.

Right now, the VEO and Lady VEO posts are attached to the village councils (panchayats) in the state and it is they who handle almost all the social and welfare schemes in every village council.

The next promotion for VEOs and Lady VEOs are to the post of block development officer (BDO).

Baby Mathew, who recently retired as BDO after joining as a Lady VEO three decades back, said that the job is the same for both the posts “but we have very limited promotion scope”.

“The proportion of nine men to one woman is for promotion to the BDO post. Another lacuna is that even though the minimum qualification is Class 10, today those who join as VEO are postgraduates, law graduates and even MBA holders. As a result they treat this as a stopgap arrangement and leave when they get a better post,” she said.

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