Women contribute to more effective law enforcement but still face many hurdles in their involvement across all facets of police operations, according to a new report by the Interpol, UNODEC and the UN Women.
The report – “Women in Law Enforcement in the ASEAN Region”— explores the experiences and views of women police officers from across the ASEAN region and provides a snapshot of current practices for their recruitment, training, promotion and deployment. The report also looks into the policies and practices that support or hinder women’s participation in law enforcement.
The Interpol notes that gender norms and stereotypes about women’s roles in society have limited their participation in law enforcement. Though some progress was made towards training and deploying women to a wider range of duties and specialist task forces at junior and mid-level ranks, there are hardly any senior officers from them.
The report highlights five major reasons of how women contribute to more effective law enforcement and they are as below;
Enhanced efficiency and effectiveness through a diverse and inclusive workforce
The report notes that women officers are eager to contribute to preventing and investigating different crime types in the ASEAN region, including cybercrime and counter-insurgency operations. It says that women can operate in closer proximity than men to some community groups. This helps in added advantage of gathering intelligence and working with citizens to counter militant groups.
Women can operate in closer proximity than men to some community groups.
Building community trust and institutional legitimacy
In the report, the Interpol says that female officers’ participation in investigation increases positive perceptions of police legitimacy. This is linked to greater levels of community cooperation, which can facilitate police investigations and responses to crime, the report added. Women police personnel are less likely to use excessive force than men.
Women police personnel are less likely to use excessive force than men.
Improved responses to sexual and gender-based violence
The presence of women personnel in policing is reported to be effective at reducing the incidence of violence against women in some circumstances. Women and girls survivors of sexual and gender-based violence will be more willing to report to women police officials. This helps in law enforcement agencies to better respond to and combat crimes against women and children, and investigate and prosecute offenders.
Women and girls survivors of sexual and gender-based violence will be more willing to report to women police officials.
Achieving gender equality and complying with international and national commitments
The expansion of women force and their roles in law enforcement helps ASEAN Member States to comply with their international and national commitments towards achieving gender equality.
The report says that gender was not a barrier to being a good police officer.
Noting that there are a few women police officials who have reached upper positions, the report said that the ASEAN region has not yet seen a female chief of police. “In Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar, the highest-ranking woman is a colonel, and in Brunei, a senior superintendent which are considered middle management positions. In countries where women have progressed up the ranks, they are greatly outnumbered by their male colleagues. For example, in Viet Nam, there are 7 women generals out of 199 in total, and in Indonesia, out of the 357 highest-ranking officers, only four are women,” the report said.
ASEAN region has not yet seen a female chief of police.
The Interpol report also put forth a series of recommendations aimed at supporting collaboration among ASEAN member states, key stakeholders and partners, to adopt and implement gender-inclusive policies and practices. These include accelerating women’s meaningful participation in law enforcement, increasing the operational effectiveness of law enforcement agencies to respond to the needs of all members of the population and tackling national and transnational crimes more effectively.
The report also says that achieving gender equality in policing does not mean just adding more women. “Rather, it is about transforming institutions that systematically sustain gender inequality in law enforcement, respecting the human rights of all people, and creating a work environment where all employees feel secure, valued and meaningfully engaged,” the report said.