Executive Leadership and Knowledge Management Workshop for Senior Women Police Officers

Raising women’s voices through enabling their leadership, participation and representation in decision-making processes are effective and important tools in advancing women’s empowerment.  This includes enhancing, inspiring, and mentoring the next generation of women leaders. Member states of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization (SARPCCO) are continually working towards achieving gender parity in decision-making, and strive to meet national, regional, and global commitments in this regard. To this end, member states have the responsibility to integrate women, and peace and security agendas into national policies and programmes to ensure that implementation is sustainable, systematic and result-driven.

The Women’s Network sub-committee of SARPCCO shoulders the responsibility of providing guidance, standardizing training and promoting common understanding for the implementation of UNSCR 1325, which affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict, the delivery of relief and recovery efforts and in the forging of lasting peace.[1] In ensuring that gender equality is realized, the SADC Secretariat and the Regional Bureau of INTERPOL developed a 3-day workshop (“Executive Leadership and Knowledge Management Workshop for Senior Women Police Officers”) from 24-26 March 2021, directed towards women police officers in senior leadership roles.

The objective of the workshop was to provide these women with the knowledge, skills, and best practices in modern trends of leadership and management. To this end, Signe Rotberga, Programme Officer for the UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSAF), delivered a virtual presentation to the workshop attendees on international policy frameworks surrounding drugs, the causes of drug use, access to health and social services, alternatives to incarceration and on the findings of UNODC assessment of challenges that Women Who Use Drugs (WWUD) face in accessing relevant services in South Africa.

Ms. Rotberga stressed the importance of recognizing drug dependence as a complex, multifactorial health disorder, the difficulty women face in accessing drug treatment, and promoted treatment for Drug Use Disorders (DUD) as an alternative to incarceration. Additionally, the presentation highlighted the causes and consequences of DUD among women, such as: more quickly becoming dependent on several illicit substances (“telescoping”), engaging in HIV-risk behaviours, limited access to resources (i.e., education, employment, income), more likely to be living with a partner with a substance use problem and ultimately, higher mortality rates for those who inject drugs.

During her closing remarks, the workshop Chairperson, Ms. Mubita Nawa, Head of INTERPOL RB Harare/SARPCCO Coordinator, remarked that the testimonies from WWUD, as expressed in Ms. Rotberga’s presentation, were very powerful, because they helped to inform the Women’s Police Network of the personal circumstances and unique needs of WWUD. These experiences and testimonies, combined with the additional knowledge and skills gained through the workshop, help women police officers to better tailor their work to addressing the specific needs of women who are not only victims of crime, but also those who are drug dependent or in conflict with law.

[1] United Nations Security Council Resolution #1325: Women and Peace and Security, http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/1325.