WPON Executive Committee Chair presents the Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing Practice at International Association of Women Police Annual Conference in Newfoundland, Canada

Ms. Sanja Sumonja, WPON Executive Committee Chair and Inspector in the Ministry of Interior Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, participated at the U.S. Department of State, Office of Criminal Justice Assistance and Partnerships workshop on Global Police Reform Strategies for Diversifying and Mainstreaming Female Officers into All Areas of Police Service. The workshop is part of the 2012 International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Conference in Newfoundland, Canada.

The objectives of the workshop were to identify ways in which female officers are marginalized within police agencies, discuss effective diversification strategies, and identify approaches to inclusiveness that could be implemented by policing entities and related government institutions. Apart from Ms.Sumonja, experience and views were shared by Ms. Gwen Boniface from the United Nations Police Division; Ms. M. Brooke Darby, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State; Ms. Ellison E. Greenslade, Police Commissioner, Royal Bahamas Police Force and Superintendent Shirley Cuillierrier, Director of Immigration and Passport Section, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The speakers agreed that too often women police officers are not being utilized to their fullest potential. While experience and research indicate that women are essential in maintaining stability, prosperity, peace and security all over the world, women still represent only a small percentage of police officers worldwide. Several nations have undertaken police reform initiatives, which include examining recruitment, gender roles, social barriers, training police leadership, and assessing internal police culture. By effectively highlighting the importance of inclusion and mainstreaming women into all areas of police service, the presence of women police can strengthen reforming police forces and have significant impact on the police services.

Ms. Sumonja contributed to the discussion by presenting some of the activities and achievement of the Women Police Officers Network in South East Europe. In particular she spoke about the Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing Practice with a particular focus on recruitment, selection and professional development of women police officers, which provide a set of concrete recommendations to police services on how to make recruitment processes more gender sensitive and how to ensure better professional development for women in police services in South east Europe. Guidelines were developed by WPON members based on data provided by 8 Ministries of Interior and Police Service on the existing policies and practices in this area. Guidelines were finalized in 2012 and will be officially launched at the Belgrade Security Forum on Friday, 21 September 2012.