Women increase operational effectiveness of law enforcement in ASEAN region, but barriers to participation persist: INTERPOL, UNODC, UN Women report

Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

[Press release]

Report highlights the essential role played by women police officers in addressing criminal offences and urges ASEAN authorities to create the conditions for their professional advancement

Bangkok (Thailand), 26 August 2020 – A new report by INTERPOL, UNODC and UN Women entitled “Women in Law Enforcement in the ASEAN Region”, has found that while women contribute to more effective law enforcement, they still face many hurdles in their involvement across all facets of police operations.

The report explores the experiences and views of women police officers from across the ASEAN region and provides a snapshot of current practices for their recruitment, training, deployment and promotion. It also offers insights into the policies and practices that support – or hinder – women’s participation in law enforcement.

Some women officers reported that gender norms and stereotypes about women’s roles in society have limited their participation in law enforcement. Furthermore, while there are examples of women who have secured promotions to higher ranks, senior female leaders remain rare. Nonetheless, some progress has been made towards training and deploying women to a wider range of duties and specialist task forces at junior and mid-level ranks.

“You need to make junior officers see that women can perform the job,” said a high-ranking female officer from Singapore. “It’s all [about] inspiration…having women in top management positions inspires and provides hope. It shows what is possible and that you can also achieve that.”

The report also showcases the significant contributions by women in law enforcement to improve responses to sexual and gender-based crimes, build community trust, and improve perceptions of the legitimacy of the institutions they serve.

Looking ahead, the report offers a series of recommendations aimed at supporting collaboration among ASEAN member states, key stakeholders and partners, to adopt and implement gender- inclusive policies and practices. These include the need to: (1) accelerate women’s meaningful participation in law enforcement; and (2) increase the operational effectiveness of law enforcement agencies to respond to the needs of all members of the population and tackle national and transnational crimes more effectively.

Finally, the report brings to light that achieving gender equality in policing is not simply about adding more women. Rather, it is about transforming institutions that systematically sustain gender inequality in law enforcement, respecting the human rights of all people, and creating a work environment where all employees feel secure, valued and meaningfully engaged.

A launch event was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand and chaired by Jorge Fainstein Day Gastrell, Acting Director, Capacity Building and Training, INTERPOL, UNODC Regional Representative, Jeremy Douglas, UN Women Regional Director Mohammad Naciri, and Police Lieutenant Colonel Amonrat Wathanakosit, Instructor, Training Center of Provincial Police Region 5, Royal Thai Police. Her Excellency Dr. Sarah Taylor, Ambassador of Canada to the Kingdom of Thailand, Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, offered remarks on behalf of the Government of Canada which financed the report.

For media inquiries:

  • Mike Drach, UN Women Media Relations: michael.drach@unwomen.org
  • Suchaya Mokkhasen, UNODC National Project Officer: suchaya.mokkhasen@un.org
  • INTERPOL Press Office: press@interpol.int