Interview with the Joint Managing Director of CIDCO

Gender Inclusive Planning at CIDCO

  • Name – Ms. V. Radha, IAS
  • Designation – Joint Managing Director, CIDCO

Can you share your vision for making CIDCO Navi Mumbai (South) Gender Inclusive?

My vision is to make social inclusion an integral part of CIDCO’s smart city vision. I want to see it permeate into all aspects city development. The initiatives taken for it should become the norm in the future. They should be replicated over time, even when people leave CIDCO, making it a part of the institutional memory.

How have you been able to address issues of gender inclusion in CIDCO as well as in city level policies?

CIDCO is in a special position to bring about positive change, as we are the planners, engineers and the owners of the land. Particularly, with the new smart city agenda, we can make a difference by leading through example. We made Inclusive Planning a pillar in the our smart city action plan because it has to be a comprehensive approach that looks at the issue of gender inclusion in association with the issues of youth and the elderly across the board. It cannot be a few isolated piecemeal actions.

Can you talk about the current gender representation in the workforce at CIDCO?

CIDCO’s senior management has a strong presence of highly educated women. We do not differentiate on basis of gender in any means and pursue a zero tolerance policy for cases on sexual harassments. Our assessment of the employees is based purely on competence and integrity. And I am proud to say that we have plenty of it in our organisation.

As part of the Inclusive Planning Pillar, what are some of CIDCO’s initiatives on Gender Inclusion for CIDCO Navi Mumbai (South)?

CIDCO has a comprehensive strategy for inclusive planning. Instead of providing separate land parcels, we are also going to integrate the social facilities for women, senior citizens and youth under one roof. This will help create an active vibrant community which lends safety to the neighborhood and makes these come alive with interaction and activity. We also realise that NGOs who run these facilities are not developers and constructing them is a complicated task with all the clearances and permissions involved. To simplify the matter, CIDCO has decided to build these facilities for the NGOs to run. A board note has been passed on the subject. Drawing upon the work of Balkalyaan in Pune, CIDCO is building recreation facilities for the disabled which will used on the concept of time share. CIDCO takes the issue of elderly and disabled seriously in context of gender inclusive planning as elderly and disabled women are some of the most vulnerable members of the society. CIDCO is also working with PAP women to understand and mitigate their issues. Following a competitive selection process, CIDCO is sponsoring children of PAP (incidentally all girls) to study for UPSC examination in Pune and New Delhi. Our agenda is to empower women through education.

Can you share some of your earliest experiences on the subject of Gender Inclusion, including your work at BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation), in setting up the Savitribai Phule Resource Centre?

Initially as the district collector of Aurangabad, I was met with a sense of disbelief across all the levels of the organisation. Aurangabad is a politically significant district with a lot of issues and I was its first woman collector after 1840. I pushed the agenda of development, speaking about long term issues such as water. People were so amazed to see me, a woman, in the position of power, they would queue up simply to see me and meet me at work in Taluka places. Initially it was quite unnerving, particularly after working in Pune where I had been easily accepted in my position as woman. But over time I saw complete transformation in the district as we continued working together on the agenda on development. Eventually I was accepted with total warmth and affection. This was a wonderful experience for me.

At BMC, I headed the prevention of sexual harassment committee as the senior most woman officer. We realised that the cases of sexual harassment were numerous and that they were being dealt with as a reaction with poor understanding of the issue. Primarily because it is all built on negativity. I understood that we had to change the discussion to something that was positive and constructive. Sexual harassment was an issue that went beyond employees and extended to the citizens who visited BMC to use its services. So we decided to broaden the scope of our task and we set out to establish a gender resource centre that educated people at BMC and the community on the issues of gender inclusion. We also focused on capacity building and empowerment of women. All of this was done in collaboration with nonprofit organisations such as Akshara. We developed training programs in coordination with all the various committees at BMC. We also focused on women entrepreneurship. Our special focus was on marginalised women including the elderly and the disabled. This was a comprehensive effort and a truly good example of how a massive organisation like BMC should address the complex issue of gender.