Promoting gender equity within law enforcement

Myra Imran
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

Islamabad:Aimed at enhancing the recruitment, retention, and empowerment of women police officers in Pakistan, the three-year $3.5 million ‘Police Awam Saath Saath’ Programme was officially culminated at a clos-out event organised on Monday. The programme was supported by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in collaboration with the US Embassy's Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL).

Notable accomplishments of the ‘Police Awam Saath Saath’ Programme include the revision and upgradation of training courses at the National Police Academy, an increase in women's representation in police force by over 20% in both KP and Balochistan through extensive support and training for women police aspirants, establishment of Women Police Councils, training of 1800 women police officers in Punjab as victim support officers, training of trans-victim support officers from 35 districts in Punjab on trauma-informed policing, and development of gender-sensitive policies and support mechanisms for women officers. The closing event mainly featured inspiring speeches, informative exhibits showcasing the program's impact on increasing women's representation in the police force and making policing more citizen-centric and video presentations showcasing the inspiring stories of women police officers and their contributions to the community's safety and security.

Addressing the audience, USIP's country director, Imran Khan, expressed his satisfaction with the progress made through the programme. "There is a pressing need to make substantial strides in women's empowerment within the policing domain. By empowering women within the police force, we are not only advancing gender equality but also enhancing the overall effectiveness of law enforcement."

Deputy Chief of Mission Andrew Schofer, representing the U.S. Embassy, reiterated the commitment of the United States to support efforts that promote inclusivity and justice. "To all of Pakistan's champions of women in policing, the United States stands with you. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you to increase the number of female officers, elevate their status, and to champion our common cause of peace, security, and justice for all."

“With the support of Law Enforcement Agencies and USIP, we have seen an impressive increase of more than 20 per cent in female police representation in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police over the past three years. The Punjab police and its women's police council have trained more than 1,800 women officers as victim support officers.

The National Police Academy revised and improved the 18-month initial command course to ensure that Assistant Superintendents of Police are better trained and positioned to emerge as change-making leaders. Pakistan’s first-ever Women’s Police Councils empower female officers to assume leadership roles as station house officers. Many have been at the forefront of establishing anti-harassment committees among their colleagues and providing gender sensitivity training,” he said.

The guest speakers including Director National Police Bureau Ehsan Sadiq, National Coordinator of NACTA Ihsan Ghani Khan, Member Governance, Innovations and Reforms for Planning Commission of Pakistan Adnan Rafiq, Inspector General National Highway and Motorway Police Sultan Ali Khowaja acknowledged the contributions and need of the presence of women in police force. They also shared the steps that have been taken by the government for this purpose.

The event allowed USIP, INL, local partners, various law enforcement agencies, and the Government of Pakistan to share lessons and best practices over the last few years that played a pivotal role in integrating gender perspectives, mainstreaming gender, and enhancing citizen-centric policing. Through the event, participants exchanged knowledge, strengthened existing partnerships, and paved the way for expanding the footprint of INL-funded USIP programming across civilian law enforcement agencies. The speakers underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in fostering positive change; these efforts involve amplifying the recruitment, retention, and capacity development of women police officers and employing a citizen-centric lens to policing.