Friday, 11 March 2011

REPORT OF THE ONE DAY NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GENDER MAINSTREAMING IN THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE ORGANISED BY CLEEN FOUNDATION IN COLLABORATION WITH FREDRICK EBERT FOUNDATION ON MONDAY, 7TH MARCH, 2011, AT BOLTON WHITE HOTEL, ABUJA.

 Preamble  
The security of lives of the citizens and property, maintaining rules and order are parts of the core constitutional duties of the Nigeria Police Force. This has made the clamour for an effective, accountable and responsive Nigeria Police central in national discourses in the country. However, to achieve such a high expectation, the need for a gender sensitive Police Force is equally crucial. There are increasing concerns about the discriminatory approach to gender issues within the Nigeria Police Force. In other words, women are not seriously considered in gender mainstreaming. Women are not only poorly represented in the Force, female officers are not adequately protected as well as given equal opportunities like their male counterparts . As a critical segment of the society, it is a major deficiency that needs to be urgently addressed.



It is in view of the above that CLEEN Foundation, which has been at the fore front of the campaigns for effective policing and social justice system in Nigeria, has taken the lead in advocating for the need to establish a gender conscious police organization as a major aspect of the proposed police reform. That is why the theme of this conference, “Gender Mainstreaming in the Nigeria Police Force”, was apt timely. This international conference which drew participants from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), State Security Service (SSS), Sierra Leone National Police, Liberia National Police, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), media and other organizations was in collaboration with Fredrick Ebert Foundation. The agenda of the conference was to deliberate on this challenge with a view to providing practicable solutions for appropriate action.

 Key Observations Made at the Conference
1.      Gender Discriminations in the Nigeria Police: There are organizations where women have suffered discriminations like the Police Force. It was confirmed that women officers are not allowed posting to head State Commands of the Nigeria Police Force.

2.      Culture-induced Discriminations: There are cultural notions or perceptions that prevent women from assuming some sensitive positions in our society or actualizing their potentials. For example, in politics, participation in political activities is mainly seen as an exclusive reserve of the men. In order words, women are not easily considered as fit for such volatile contest considering their physiological nature. there are also some jobs that women are not considered fit because of the thinking that such jobs prevent them from handling their primary responsibilities properly to their families.

3.      Policy of Exclusion: The conference observed that there are institutional policies that exclude women from taking certain positions in the society, especially in the Police Force. For instance, a married woman is not permitted to seek enrolment into the Nigeria Police Force.

4.      Uneven Marital Rules: It was observed too that for a woman police officer to get married, she must seek the permission of the Inspector-General to get married. this was considered as unfair and insensitive rule because it does not apply to the male officers.

5.      Outdated Rules: Some of the policies in use in the Nigeria Police are outdated and made during the military rule. Some of them have been in existence since 1941 and need to be reviewed.

6.      Inferiority Complex: Women contribute to their problems. It was noted that in several circumstances, women have turned down certain challenges thereby admitting their feminist and perhaps, inferiority.

7.      Sexual Mistrust: It was observed that women also encourage discriminations among themselves. For instance, some First Ladies and highly placed female government functionaries prefer to work with male officers than female officers for the fear of unholy attraction of female officers to their spouses or for some personal  reasons.

8.      Language Factor: The conference noted that the use of language in the Nigeria Police discriminates against women. For example, the use of the word “officers and men” is ambiguous. Also, the use of the words such as “he”, “himself” and “his” exclude women from the mainstream.

9.      Pregnancy Factor: The conference was not impressed with the fact that pregnancy, which is a product of natural reproduction and sustenance of human race, has become a recurrent factor used as an excuse to discriminate against women in the Police Force and several other organizations.

10.  It was however acknowledged that, statistically, in the State security Service (SSS), the tendencies for gender discrimination are highly minimal. It was observed that the organization is gender sensitive as there are no discriminations on the basis of sex. For instance, the organization has fifteen (15) state chiefs who are women. Out of seven directorates, three are women.

The West African Experience 
1.      The relative experience of gender insensitivity in Sierra Leonean Police is not quite different from that of the Nigeria Police. For example, it was observed that the Police Force is meant for men and not for women in that country. This is reflected in the wide gender population gap of the Police Force in Sierra Leon in the ratio of 84percent and 16percent.

2.      The sentiments against women in political positions is not different from what is obtainable in other west African countries where women’s candidacy are not encouraged or supported; people still prefer to vote men politicians than voting women.
3.      In Liberia also, the situation is comparatively similar. In order to confront these challenges, the country came up with some policies aimed at enhancing gender sensitivity.

4.      Some of the challenges militating against gender sensitivity in Liberian Police are stereotyping of roles and responsibilities, male chauvinism, sexual harassments, intimidation and victimization. This point was equally highlighted in the experience shared from the courses and operations of the Koffi Anan Institute for Peace, Training and Cooperation (KAIPTC).

5.      The centre identified sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) committed on civilians as key issue in peace and security agenda preventing gender mainstreaming which the centre hopes include it as a core course. However, there are fears that this problems will persist unless relevant institutions concerned with crucial matters of peace and security take gender sensitivity seriously.

6.      The centre, as part of its activities towards promoting gender sensitivity, created gender, peace and security programme in 2010.

The Challenges to Reforms in Gender Mainstreaming 

The following have been identified as the major inhibitions to necessary reforms towards addressing the challenges of gender mainstreaming in the Nigeria Police Force:

Lack of political will from relevant authorities was identified as a major problems facing attempts at reforms to address this problem.

Poor implementation of policies: The lack of commitment of relevant agencies of government to implement policies aimed at correcting gender insensitivity.



Poor or Absence of Advocacy: It was noted by the conference that the campaign for gender mainstreaming has not really being impactful due to poor or absence of advocacy from the civil society organizations.

Male Chauvinism: The conference noted that since the society is largely male dominated in terms of beliefs and philosophies, especially in Africa where this perception is still very strong, it has been difficult to convince the police authorities on the crucial need for gender mainstreaming in the Force.

Poor Representation of women at committees and panels where decisions concerning women are taken.

Absence of institutional policies to properly address the challenges of gender mainstreaming in the Police Force.

Recommendations
1.      Equality of Rules: It was suggested that, the same laws and rules such as the rules of marriage, should apply to both male and female police officers.

2.      Review of Discriminatory Rules: All-inclusive policies that would help carry along female officers in the Police Force should be promoted so as to accommodate women who are a significant segment of the nation’s population.

3.      Equal Opportunities should be provided for both male and female officers in the Police Force. This includes the areas of recruitments, welfare packages, training, promotions, postings and others.

4.      Advocacy and Education: The conference strongly recommends a need for more advocacy by the civil society organizations with a view to educating women and enlightening people on the need to develop positive attitude on gender mainstreaming. This would enhance understanding which would towards accommodating women in organizations that may want to use feminity as a basis for discriminations.

5.      A Pro-active Approach to Recruitment in the Nigeria Police Force with regard to gender sensitivity should be urgently considered for a policy action.

6.      Self Defence for Female Officers: The female officers in the Nigeria Police Force should be equipped and armed to enable her defend herself like her male counterpart. Both male and female officers face similar dangers and so they respectively deserve equal opportunities for self defence. More so because women are more susceptible to coercion and harassments.

  

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