Kabul, August 2016. The smooth integration of female police officers into the ANP is just as important as recruiting and retaining more females in the police force – a cause that EUPOL sought to promote by conducting a code of conduct information session for 45 female Afghan police officers at EUPOL HQ.
The benefits of having a strong female police force in Afghanistan cannot be overstated. The participants spelled out numerous ways in which their contribution adds value to the ANP: Female police officers have a key role in dealing with female victims, suspects and perpetrators. They have the trust of other females who would find it easier to approach them and they can help de-escalate and manage conflict situations easier because of their different societal role. Female officers in a gender-separated society like Afghanistan have access to information which is not accessible to males and can therefore contribute to the prevention of crimes.
To strengthen their role, EUPOL and the ANP identified the need to provide guidance on a code of conduct – defined shared ethical standards in performing police work – to ease their integration into the police force. The code of conduct extends to demeanor and appearance as well as to knowledge on the rule of law. The latter will ensure that officers are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities, which will enhance their security.
Dr. Sima Samar, the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was on hand to tutor the participants on appropriate behaviour in the workplace. “The sustainable integration of female police into the ANP must be fostered by the females themselves,” she said.
Speaking at the ceremony, the EUPOL Head of Mission Ms. Pia Stjernvall stressed that female police officers must create inspiring role models for other police women, for potential recruits and for ordinary citizens. Solidarity among female police mutually supporting each other is a key element for success in a male-oriented society. “No country can afford to only utilise half of its potential, and especially not Afghanistan after many decades of conflict. The most prosperous countries today are those that allow females to be active at all levels in society and in different professions,” she said.
The future of policing in Afghanistan
She emphasized that patience and resilience are vital in the time ahead, to induce the societal change that has started. She voiced hope that the upcoming conference on the future of policing in Afghanistan, at which female policing will take center stage, will provide a platform for Afghans to further define and influence that change.