UN Spotlights Women in Policing on International Day of Police Cooperation

Flickr: Scott 97006
September 12, 2023

The United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Policing has highlighted the importance of women in policing in respect of the first International Day of Police Cooperation on 7th September. The Task Force, which works with INTERPOL, has emphasised the role of female officers across the policing spectrum and praised their contribution to the protection of human rights, crime prevention, and safety and security.

Increased diversity and measures to promote inclusivity inpolice forces are backed by sustained emphasis on the importance of considering women’s unique perspectives and mainstreaming ‘gender-responsive’ approaches across policing.

The United Nations has also used the day to reinforce its belief in community-oriented policing that promotes links between communities and the police that serve them, and provides locally led solutions to public safety concerns, stating that mutual trust between public and police is key to achieving this. As well as the community benefits gained by having a more diverse police force, the UN report notes that victims of domestic and gender-based violence are more likely to seek help if they have access to a female police officer, again highlighting the need for increased numbers of female officers.

The report praises increasing global domestic averages of female police officers but states that the international community must reaffirm its commitment to achieving meaningful growth in these numbers, with most countries[1]averaging between 15 and 20 percent of police officers being female. Removal of gender-specific barriers is key for the encouragement of more women into policing, including the reduction of gender-stereotyping, paternalistic attitudes of police management, sexual harassment, and discriminaton.

The UN’s own emphasis is placed on developing gender-sensitive work environments and removing discriminatory practices affecting female officers globally. UN Women, alongside UNODC and the International Association of Women Police, has developed a handbook on gender-responsive police services that is focused on supporting women and girls subject to violence.

The United Nations stated in its report that it “encourages continued reform in police services globally to create pathways for women to forge meaningful careers serving the community and the rule of law”, and the 1st International Day of Police Cooperation provides an important opportunity for the United Nations to set out a path forward for policing services globally.

Read the full UN Report here

Read more about SecurityWomen’s work on policing here

[1] According to the UN Report, there are 52 countrieswith available data.  

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