By Robert Pickett
One of the pillars of Mission Pakistan’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) section is to “enhance opportunities for women to access justice and to actively participate in the administration of justice.” INL-Pakistan is helping to overcome barriers to gender inclusion, including in police recruitment. This is a major issue in Pakistan, where only 2% of law enforcement officers are women, a result of both cultural attitudes and limited police resources. One significant constraint to expanding the representation of women in law enforcement is a lack of women’s facilities at police training schools, where local culture requires officers and trainees to live, and often eat, in gender-separated facilities. Women law enforcement officers may also need assistance caring for children while attending training. All of these represent major obstacles INL seeks to address through its assistance.
In 2018, INL initiated a program to address these challenges, donating more than ten million dollars for the construction of barracks and other facilities for women at 14 law enforcement training locations throughout Pakistan.
Earlier this year, INL successfully transferred one such facility to Pakistan’s National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP). The new barracks can accommodate 100 female trainees and includes a dining hall, lactation room, and daycare facilities. Over the next five years, the facility will help the NHMP meet its goal of adding 1,200 new female officers, comprising 10% of all new recruits.
INL-Pakistan Director Mark Tervakoski summarized INL’s goals for this and similar projects during the handover ceremony, March 21, 2022.
“As more Pakistani women join the ranks of officers, they will inevitably deepen police understanding of gender issues, and enhance the quality of service offered to Pakistanis of all genders,” he said. “This makes not just women and children safer, but all of society.”
Robert Pickett is the police assistance program officer in Embassy Islamabad’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement section.