A network for change
The Women Police Officers Network (WPON) was established with the support of SEESAC in November 2010 under the umbrella of the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association by high ranking women representatives of nine police services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia. WPON’s mission was to place gender at the top of the agenda of the police reform in the region. It served as a platform for knowledge and experience
change across police services in the region on the status, needs and priorities of policewomen in South East Europe, an advocacy mechanism for promoting gender equality in the policing and as an advisory mechanism on the gender- efficient implementation of international agreements.
Essential information sharing
Gender discrimination in police institutions is a topic rarely addressed. WPON created a safe space for policewomen to share their knowledge and expertise and to feel heard and understood. WPON members realized the importance of local-level association for women police officers since they spend most of their work time in men dominated environments. Two local associations of women police officers were established by WPON members from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Associations not only enable peer
support and information exchange but, more importantly, boost confidence and create networks which in turn ensure better gender integration and systematic change.
The absence of data leads to ineffective policies the perpetuate gender gaps and prevent citizens from getting the safety they need from institutions like the police. One of the striking achievements of the “Support for Gender Mainstreaming in Policing Practice in South East Europe” project was the Establishing the Southeast Europe Women Police Officers – Research Findings regional report. This publication brought to light some
data for bringing systematic changes in the police institutions in South East Europe. For example, data showed that women only represented between 3,5 and 7,5% of uniformed police officers in South East Europe with only a handful in management positions. It also enabled identify certain trends. For examples, the fact that although fewer women than men enrolled in police academies, they were on average as or more successful than their male colleagues.
Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing
Data from the above-mentioned groundbreaking researches served as the reference point for the development of The Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing with an Emphasis on Recruitment, Selection and Professional Development of Women in Police Services by WPON members. The Guidelines were designed as a manual for police managers at all levels, particularly those working in departments responsible for education, human resources and public relations, or other officials within the Ministry of
Interior and the police who handle recruitment, admission, selection, and professional development. They propose a set of simple and low-cost measures, which will help police services in South East Europe attract and retain more qualified women and advance gender equality.
WPON enabled policewomen to grow their professional skills. Workshops were organized to raise the awareness of WPON members on gender equality, security sector reform, and to strengthen their capacities for gender mainstreaming and develop their advocacy skills. These training enabled policewomen to enhance their skills when it comes to gender-sensitive analysis, argument development, presentation skills, message design and management. WPON also facilitated the exchange of information on
educational opportunities for policewomen like training and scholarships.