Women in the police force tantamount to infidelity?

Kabul, October 2016. Lieutenant Colonel Zainab Mobariz: A young role model fighting for reform within the ANP

She started out at the Family Response Unit within the General Police Command in north-eastern Takhar province, and later worked as the Head of the Gender and Human Rights section. Today, she has an even greater responsibility on her shoulders – as the Head of Supply within the Central Passport Department in Kabul.

Quantity versus quality

Lt. Col Mobariz, an undergraduate law student, notes that the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) has been preoccupied with the number of female police officers for so long – she believes the ministry would be better off focusing on recruiting educated girls and women to join the police service: “The MoI should make sure that eligible Afghan female high school graduates join the police. This will ensure quality service.”

Infidelity?

“I love working as a police officer, but I am not satisfied with the work environment of female police officers, such as when it comes to not being respected; to being treated in an inferior manner. However, we should not forget that progress is being made. The working conditions of female police officers are much better today when compared to previous years,” says Lt. Col Mobariz.

She shares a personal story from Takhar province where she worked a few years ago. “The Religious Scholars Council compared the presence of women within the police to infidelity. They were very surprised to see me working hard with securing polling centres for women during the 2014 presidential elections and, in fact, awarded me a certificate of appreciation after the elections.”

That men understand the importance of the role of women within the police – despite male dominance of the police force – is a sign of hope, according to Lt. Colonel Mobariz.

‘Same need’

She contends that a lot still remains to be done to support female police officers and calls on her countrymen to respect women in the workplace: “The same need that exists with regard to recruiting female doctors, nurses and teachers, for example, applies to female police officers as well.”

Grand ambitions

Lt. Col Mobariz has big plans for the future. “I want to be the first female minister of Interior Affairs in the history of Afghanistan. I have my goals and vision for that already. I would, from the outset, empower women to work in leadership roles – shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues,” she reveals.

Top of her agenda would be the professionalisation of the ANP through the making available of higher education opportunities. She would personally visit female police units to ask about their problems and also see to it that recruitment standards are changed to allow only literate individuals to be eligible for work in the police force. “Last but not least, I would work to change the image of the ANP, which should have a more positive image than it holds in society today,” she says.

Training holds key

“Female police are an integral part of the Afghan National Police. Further education opportunities at graduate and post-graduate level would enable them to take on more responsibility. They should also be continually empowered to work in leadership positions. At least one of the deputy interior ministers should be a woman,” concludes Lt. Col Mobariz.