Why is it important?
Globally, we are witnessing an encouraging momentum toward creating a more balanced public safety service powered partially by a growing appreciation of the valuable professional qualities that women often bring to law enforcement. However, despite women being in law enforcement for over a hundred years, they still face discrimination and harassment. Policewomen often encounter a “glass ceiling”, meaning they can advance in their carriers as far as the imposed ceiling will allow. Some of them are even being harassed by their fellow officers. All of these at the loss of the citizens the police should serve. Women are found to respond more effectively to incidents of violence against women, which make up approximately half of the calls to police in some countries. Also, research indicates that women are less likely to use excessive force or pull their weapon. In South East Europe, women represent between 3,5 and 7,5% of uniformed police officers with only a handful in management positions. In the region, policewomen feel that they were not treated equally to their men colleagues and do not have equal career opportunities.
Since 2010, UNDP SEESAC has been working with police officers and their institutions in South East Europe to make women a fundamental part of contemporary police. Building upon a network established by policewomen in the region themselves, SEESAC developed Building “Support for Gender Mainstreaming in Policing Practice in South East Europe” project in June 2010. The project aimed at growing the capacity of the established network into a mechanism envisaged to serve as an advisory body to the region’s police services on matters related to gender equality and policing.