UN Women Kenya/Tabitha Icuga: Linda Okello talks with confidence about herself and why she chose to be a police officer. At 31 and working in the traffic department, she has no doubt that the governance and leadership skills earned during a recent training organized by UN Women shall help her in her day to day activities working with the National Police Service.
“This training has really helped me and will enable me to look clearly at my role as a police woman and an agent of transformative change as I want to be a leader someday” she says smiling.
After completing her education, Linda joined the Kenya Police eight years ago, “I have always wanted to be a police officer since I was a little girl and I love my job, even though I have faced many challenges being a women”.
UN Women Kenya, through its Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action programme has been supporting and working closely with the National Police Service in promoting gender sensitive police reforms and support the establishment of the first ever association within the service that aims to champion the rights of women, promote gender equality and professional growth of women within the service. The Association is expected to enhance the role of women in policing by developing leadership skills, providing a platform for women officers to share experiences and support one another, as well as lobby for gender sensitive policies and also enhance their ability to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
Working together for gender equality and women’s empowerment
Ms Karin Fueg, UN Women Kenya Deputy Country Director insisted on the role of the police women as women, men, boys and men face different security threats that require tailored responses. “A crucial element in ensuring peace and security is adequate representation of women in security sector, to broaden trust and act on gender-specific concerns such as GBV/SGBV” said Ms Fueg. The training aimed at building the capacity of KAWP members to become more gender responsive by promoting women’s leadership in decision making, advocating for increase of women in police and develop strategic plans and initiatives focused on responding to the security needs of women and girls.
The training provided KWAP members an opportunity to take stock of the association, recap of the long journey that it took to get to where they are, assess progress that has been achieved to date in efforts to promote and elevate the profile of women within the police and criminal justice systems in Kenya and challenges faced. Additionally the training provided a platform to examine the role of KWAP in the larger police reforms in Kenya.
“There is the need to keep police women on their toes” was reiterated by Professor Maria Nzomo, who facilitated the training and often reminded them of how far the Kenyan women had come from when it comes to leadership. It is worth noting that she has been a firm advocate for gender equality and has been instrumental in advocating for gender to be mainstreamed within the police reforms. “It is not easy but we have to push and work together to ensure we achieve our objectives”
Ms Sicilly Gatiti, KWAP Chair is proud of the achievements the association have been able to realize in one year. “I can happily say that gender has been integrated in Police Curriculum and we held our elections!” said Sicilly noted the long journey ahead of members of the association, and said “We need to be prepared, we need good governance and mechanisms to cope with challenges and conflict. We all need to work together to make Kenya a better and safe place for all”
Like Linda, many women police officers want to be leaders in the police service. “I hope through this association, many women and girls will be reached and helped” said Pauline Muriithi, KAWP member and an Inspector of the Administration Police Service
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Peace and Security Specialist