Appraisal gets too personal for female staff’s comfort
WOMEN CIVIL SERVANTS TO PROTEST INSENSITIVE QUESTIONS
India’s women bureaucrats are being told to provide details of their menstrual cycles in a new job appraisal form, a move that has angered female civil servants.
Among the questions about goals and skills, women in India’s sprawling bureaucracy have in the latest appraisal form, sent out earlier this year, been asked questions such as “when was your last menstrual period?” or “give details of your menstrual history”. The form also specifies that “all female officers” must list details of their last maternity leave.
“This is insensitive. We feel strongly about this,” said Seema Vyas, a civil servant in western India’s Maharashtra state’s administration department. “What will the government do with this information?”
All civil servants routinely undergo health checkups, but the details of the tests are not supposed to be part of their appraisals.
A spokesman of the government could not be immediately reached for an explanation on why the questions were being asked. In Maharashtra, women angered by the new appraisal form said they would meet next week to organise a formal complaint to the federal government’s personnel department, demanding the offending questions be removed from the form, Vyas said.
There was no word whether women bureaucrats in other parts of the country were planning to make similar demands, and the federal health ministry said it had not yet received any complaints from female civil servants.
“A committee had formulated these new rules. But for every problem there is a solution,” said K. Ramchandran, a spokesman for the federal health department.
“If things are not proper, another committee will be appointed to re-look at the new appraisal form.”
Nearly 10 per cent of India’s 4,000 civil service bureaucrats are women.
A woman civil service officer said on condition of anonymity that she and others were shocked by the move, which shows gender insensitivity at the top level of the Indian bureaucracy.
India is deeply conservative and women’s issues are a major concern.