"Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change"

As part of the fight against all types of discrimination, gender equality is crucial for peace, prosperity and security. 

It is time to reinvent the world we live in and #BalanceforBetter!

Law enforcement is still too often seen as a "man's profession". Cultural and physical stereotypes lead to biased recruitment policies and practices in the law enforcement. Female officers face many challenges that include issues surrounding sexual harassment, limited capacity for growth but also a lack of proper infrastructure, including separate washroom facilities or changing areas.

The under-representation of women within law enforcement has a worrying impact on female victims as their needs are often not considered or not understood. However, women and girls make up the majority of victims worldwide. For instance, smuggled women have a higher vulnerability, and especially to sexual abuse as victims of some conflicts' worst atrocities committed by terrorists such as rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The lack of understanding of the role of women as perpetrators also creates gaps in terms of justice efficiency and crime sentences. As poverty hits women harder, it should not come as a shock that criminal activities are also perpetrated by women. Women have shown to be leaders in organized criminal groups or assume supporting roles, and for example in many trafficking in persons cases, some women act as the intermediary between perpetrators and victims. Similarly, in terms of drug trafficking, data collected by AIRCOP Task Forces have shown that out of more than 2,000 people intercepted, 400 were women, with a strong increase of these numbers in recent years.

It is therefore important to increase the number of women in law enforcement but also to ensure that gender considerations are better taken into account in daily activities, standard operating procedures and policies. Ensuring gender mainstreaming in the law enforcement aims to create of law enforcement services representative of the population it seeks to serve, address the security needs of women, increase the credibility, trust and legitimacy of law enforcement agencies and promote gender equality to the society. It also enables better-informed decisions, more effective implementation of law enforcement mandates, more operational efficiency and better accountability.

In concrete terms, measures could include the inclusion of female officers in every shift throughout the day/night within airports, to ensure that controls on high risk passengers or potential victims may be conducted by both men and women. This would also allow for a greater attention to female victims of violence, abuse or human trafficking, by facilitating for example the testimonies of female victims/witnesses.

AIRCOP is taking action!

In order to encourage the implication of women in law enforcement, the UNODC-INTERPOL-WCO Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) supports the promotion of women within AIRCOP teams and within Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs). So far, 490 women have been trained at international airports, representing 20% of the AIRCOP JAITFs law enforcement officers. Out of 24 operational AIRCOP task forces, 8 count more than 25% of women, with the task force of Barbados having 67% of female officers.

Training in Algiers in December 2018

Training in Bissau in December 2018

In February 2019, during AIRCOP 6 th Global Meeting, Ms. Bo Shakira Harris, AIRCOP Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, underlined our engagement to integrate gender issues into the capacity-building activities we deliver to the task forces, to include gender considerations in the recruitment, selection and promotion processes, and to build the confidence of female officers.AIRCOP also integrates a gender perspective in all its trainings and has developed a specific module on gender considerations in law enforcement. AIRCOP is also striving to reach out to more female trainers to ensure consistency and has recently started to coordinate with agencies such as UN Women to deliver trainings covering gender aspects.

Ms. Bo Shakira Harris, AIRCOP Coordinator for the Caribbean

Ms. Miwa Kato, Director, UNODC Division for Operations and the AIRCOP team

These actions participate to UNODC's broader efforts to raise awareness on the necessity and practical benefits of promoting gender equality among law enforcement and judicial authorities.


For more information:

AIRCOP Project

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