Women Police Officers Network in South East Europe (WPON)

Advancing the Role of Women in Policing in South East Europe

Following the initial steps taken by the Southeast Europe Police Chief Association (SEPCA) to establish a Women Police Officers Network (WPON) in SEE, SEESAC developed the project “Support for Gender Mainstreaming in Policing Practice in South East Europe”, the implementation of which began in June 2010. The aim of this project is to assist in the setting-up of the network by providing support and expertise to the WPON in the initial phases of the inception as well as support for long-term institutionalization. The project supports the creation of basic statutes governing management and membership structures as well as specific efforts to address the recruitment, promotion, retention and career building of women police officers in the region. It is envisioned that the WPON will also come to serve as an advisory body to the region’s police services on matters related to gender and policing. The project supports the development of relevant gender policy and guidelines based on best-practices and experiences, including from other existing national and regional networks for women police officers.

In the initial period (2010-2012) the WPON is financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

About WPON
The Women Police Officers Network (WPON) in South East Europe was established on 26th November 2010 under the umbrella of the South East Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA) in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, by representatives of 9 police services in SEE: Albania, BiH-Federation, BiH-Republika Srpska, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

National women police personnel associations collaborating through WPON to improve the status of women in police services and ensure security for women in the region.


  • To provide a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge across police services in the region on the status, needs and priorities of police women in South East Europe;
  • To facilitate the advancement of the position of women in police services and gender sensitive policing practices in SEPCA police services. The WPON advises SEPCA member services on gender equality in police services and best police practice; including on the implementation of relevant international documents – the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
  • To advocate for the implementation of gender equality and democratic principles in policing within SEPCA police services.


Networking and Exchange of Information

Whether overt or hidden, gender discrimination within police institutions is a topic rarely discussed. This is why one of the key tasks of WPON is to provide a platform for women police officers from South Eastern Europe to come together, meet and exchange their experiences. Whether it is a capacity building workshop, guidelines development meeting, or an annual WPON conference, every WPON activity serves as a networking opportunity for participating women police officers. Networking is supported through:

  • Organization of annual conference of the WPON Council;
  • Capacity building for members of the WPON on gender equality and gender sensitive policing and transfer of knowledge with SEPCA members;
  • Organization and facilitation of thematic events;
  • Exchange of information among SEPCA members and with relevant institutions, on the position of women in police services and gender issues related to policing practice;
  • Data gathering and research on position of women in police services;
  • Encouraging and supporting the development of national level networks and networking.


Professional Development

WPON assists women police officers grow their 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.

Two workshops were organized, the first in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior in Republic of Croatia in Valbandon in May 2011, and the second one in cooperation with Ministry of Interior of Republic of Serbia in May 2012 and with the expert support of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

The workshops gave participants an advanced understanding of the following concepts:

  • Gender-responsive security
  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Advocacy
  • Internal and external advocacy

They helped participants acquire and/or improve the following skills:

  • Gender-sensitive analysis
  • Argument development
  • Message design and management
  • Presentation
  • Coalition-building
  • Negotiation
  • Collaborative decision-making

It was also through WPON’s professional development framework that WPON Executive Committee members attended the Annual Conferences of the International Association of Women Police  in 2011 and 2012.

WPON also facilitates exchange of information on scholarships and additional educational opportunities for women police officers.


Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing with an Emphasis on Recruitment, Selection and Professional Development of Women in Police Services

The Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing with an Emphasis on Recruitment, Selection and Professional Development of Women in Police Services 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. The Guidelines were developed by the Women Police Officers Network in a unique regional process based on data provided by the 9 Police Services participating in the project, with the support of UNDP/SEESAC.

The main goals of the guidelines are to:

  • Identify the challenges in the process of recruitment, selection and professional development of women in the police services of Southeast Europe;
  • Develop a greater understanding of the problems that women face within the police services;
  • Foster the exchange of information and good practice in this area; and
  • Define low cost and implementable measures that can improve the existing practice.

The Guidelines are 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.

Specifically, the Guidelines provide recommendations that will help to:

  1. Recruit a larger number of qualified and motivated women candidates, and to ensure their admission in the police education system and police service
  2. Make the selection process more gender sensitive.
  3. Strengthen the professional development of women in the police
  4. To make sure that career advancement for women is not limited by formal and informal obstacles


Support for National Level Activities

WPON vision is that national women police personnel associations collaborate through WPON to improve the status of women in police services and ensure security for women in the region.

Therefore WPON actively supports the development of national women police associations. To date, two such associations have been officially registered while several others are nearing establishment.

Thus far, two national women police officers associations have been formed and are active in the region:
"Network of Women in the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Srpska," and
"Network of Women Police Officers" in Bosnia and Herzegovina