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Conference on women in law enforcement begins in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: The International Women in Law Enforcement Conference, the first-of-its-kind to be held to India, started here today with Aruna Bahuguna, Director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), urging all women officers to build on breakthroughs achieved by women pioneers and exhorted them to “follow in their footsteps.”

In her Inaugural address, she emphasised that “as today’s world has shrunk into a global village and crime and terrorism sweep across continents, oceans and even space, it is but logical that women law enforcers join hands to fight crime-be it in the form of terrorism, technology or radicalisation.”

Recognising the growing expectation from women police officers and the need for greater professionalism, this three-day Conference jointly organised by SVPNPA and Charles Sturt University (CSU), Australia has attempted “to unite women law enforcers, sans borders”, a statement quoted Bahuguna as saying.

Introducing the conference, Professor Tracey Green, from CSU, Australia, stressed that this was a unique opportunity for networking at every level from global, regional to national scale on many key aspects of policing from organised crime, border security, terrorism and radicalisation and counter radicalisation.

Chris Elstoft, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission in his address dwelt on the ever-growing policing relationship between Australia and India.

Speaking about the long standing relationship between Australia and India, he stated that “we have been collaborating and working on a range of transactional issues related to money laundering and counter terrorism to name a few and the International Women in Law Enforcement Conference is yet another milestone that we have achieved coalescing the issue of women policing and gender equality.”

In the opening plenary Dr Saskia Hufnagel, Queen Mary University London, the United Kingdom, while sharing her findings on the role played by women officers from international to country level and looked at how they dealt with the male dominated environment and the ‘old-boys-network’, made it clear that gender disparity in the police force was a worldwide phenomena with some countries such as Australia, South Africa, Estonia and Belgium having higher number of women police officers and faring better than others.

“It is not enough to improve the numbers of women in police force, what we need to do is to ensure that women make it to the higher ranks,” she asserted, according to the statement.

Explaining the issue, she went on to share that “even while representation of female police officers in International Police Force was higher” and has reached an all-high of 44 per cent in Interpol and 35 per cent in International Police Office, “these increasing numbers are often deceptive as many women police officers were positioned at the entry and junior level rather than in the higher ranks”.