A lot of challenges remain for policewomen in the region in their bid to get male counterparts to see them as equals in law enforcement.
But Inspector Freda Woktamol, who is the second in charge of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (R.P.N.G.C.) internal affairs division, urged colleagues not to give up and to take on the challenge as it will build their confidence.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer at the conclusion of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (P.I.C.P.) Women’s Advisory Network (W.A.N.) conference, she said policewomen faced a number of challenges and these included discrimination in police promotion applications.
“There are challenges faced when women work in male-dominated organisations, like discrimination in terms of promotion for professional development. But these were in the 1990s and after those years coming into the 2000s women have been recognized. They have been appointed to managerial positions like within police now we have one-woman officer we have at a high executive level,” she said, while indicating that she has clocked 23 years with the R.P.N.G.C.
“It’s not like before we did not want to join the police force, but now there are certain privileges in police especially how we are recognized for the work that we do. For me to come to Samoa as part of the P.I.C.P. W.A.N., it was through my being elected the vice president of W.A.N. in P.N.G.”
Speaking of the two-day conference last week, Inspector Woktamol said it gave the opportunity for female police officers to highlight the challenges that each of them faced within their respective national police forces.
“An important aspect that we gained from the conference was most women are appointed or given the opportunity to have positions, yet some do not have the confidence to speak so one of the major things that I see for myself is through public speaking, then you can be counted in decision making, whether it involves men and women will have the confidence to speak and for me that is the highlight for this conference.”
Other contentious issues that were in the spotlight included the promotion of policewomen and their personal development, which Inspector Woktamol said was timely as the conference offered the opportunity for them to help each other and suggest solutions.
The P.I.C.P. W.A.N. conference attracted delegates from 21 countries within the region including Samoa. It was established in 2003 and represents the 21 P.I.C.P. member countries and is a non-profit organisation made up of police services in the Pacific.