The Changing landscape of Gender Diversity in Maldives Police Service18 Sep 2023
With the adoption of the “Guideline on the Creation and Managing of Women in Policing Committee” on 3rd October 2021 by Maldives Police Service (MPS), September 17th of each year became designated as the “Maldives Women in Policing Day”. This stood for a significant milestone, highlighting the evolving commitment of the MPS to empower women and reshape the landscape of gender inclusivity within the law enforcement community of the Maldives.
As we celebrate Maldives Women in Policing Day to commemorate the crucial role of women in the field of policing, it is essential to reflect on the remarkable efforts that have paved the way for future generations of women in law enforcement in the Maldives.
Traditionally, policing was perceived as a physically demanding and male-centric profession, a perception that discouraged women from pursuing careers in policing. This stereotype persisted for decades, creating a gender imbalance in the wider Maldivian law enforcement community. Women who did choose this path often faced skepticism, discrimination, and a lack of support.
When MPS became established as a fully independent civil law enforcement agency in 2004, only 64 female officers were employed within the ranks of the organization. Over the years, MPS has taken significant strides to transform the landscape and enhance gender inclusivity within the force. As such, the mandatory presence of at least one officer in every police station, reserved slots for women in training courses, extending paid maternity leave from 2 to 6 months, provision of flexibility to work in home islands and introduction of career advice programs in schools and universities has immensely contributed to the increase in representation of women within MPS. Today, the percentage of female officers and staff within MPS has grown to over 18.5% and this figure is bound to rise in the coming years.
The role of women in policing underscores the importance of their contributions to the community. Women officers often excel in community building, building rapport especially with vulnerable populations, which is essential for law enforcement. The growing recognition of the importance of women's inclusivity in policing has revolutionized conventional forms of policing. While this has encouraged women to pursue careers in policing, they continue to grapple with entrenched gender biases. To illustrate, often women’s responsibilities within law enforcement are constraint to stereotypical tasks such as administrative work and gender related issues, limiting their potential of working in diverse fields within the organization.
Despite the challenges, Maldivian women in policing have continued to break barriers and prove their competence in various roles. In 2020, “Maldives Women in Policing Project” was inaugurated to amplify the voices of women officers and staff within MPS. This led to the creation of Maldives Women in Policing Committee, marking a remarkable step forward in MPS’s journey towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Breaking Barriers: Women in Policing Committee
Since its creation on 1st September 2021, the Maldives Women in Policing Committee (MWP) has been actively working to promote women empowerment and utilizing their outreach to influence policies for the betterment of gender equality within the organization.
In this regard, MWP has undertaken various initiatives to enhance and provide support for women. From leadership camps to sessions on balancing professional and personal life, MWP aims to go beyond achieving gender parity and ensure that women are empowered and provided essential resources to thrive in the field of policing.
Furthermore, MWP has undertaken several initiatives to improve the quality of opportunities and resources available to women in this profession. In this regard, the committee has met with the Police Medical to discuss the health-related issues pertaining to women. The meeting underscored the potential collaboration between MWP and Police Medical in raising awareness about available health resources and identifying areas for improvement. MWP also initiated an online discussion with those working in Local Policing Command to discuss and identify the unique challenges faced by female officers working in different islands.
Moreover, MWP engaged with various international partners such ICITAP, FBI, UN & British High Commission Consultants to discuss various training opportunities that can equip women with the confidence and knowledge to maneuver the challenges they face within policing.
Women in policing in the Maldives have made substantial progress, contributing significantly to law enforcement and community safety. With 4 trailblazing women awarded with the rank of Superintendent of Police and 23 as commissioned officers, this serves as an inspiring testament of women breaking barriers.
While challenges remain, MPS along with MWP continues to ensure a more diverse, equitable, and effective future for women in this profession. In this regard, MPS celebrates Maldives Women in Policing Day as a tribute to honour the efforts and achievements of women officers. This day also serves as a reminder of the important contribution of all those who continue to promote a just and equitable society.