Fundasaun Mahein, 21 October 2013
Women in PNTL: Initiative, Successes and Challenges
Female participation in the process of state construction through the PNTL is very significant. There are 593 women enlisted in the PNTL. Of this number, 148 women work in a position of authority and 445 are regular police officers. Two women hold a high post, one with the category of superior officer with a rank of Superintendent, and the other with the rank of Superintendent Assistant.
FM’s monitoring identified some indicators of success for the female leadership of the PNTL institution. The efforts of female officers from the field often showed positive results and lead to violence reduction and peace in many communities. One such officer is the Liquisa District Commander, Superintendent Natercia Soares Martins, who has succesfully initiated a partnership with developmental organizations, NGOs, community leaders, and community members in Liquisa district to establish a volunteer security (VS) program as a tool for conflict prevention. Despite the initiative shown by many more women like Superintendent Martins, the accomplishments of female officers is granted little attention from government officials.
FM also identified other challenges for women serving in the PNTL. In some instances, women face obstacles in voicing their opinions regarding organizational decisions. The sad truth that a women’s opinion does not carry the same weight as the opinion of a male colleague is a problem that is faced by women in all levels of the chain of command in the PNTL.
This problem exists because many male PNTL members do not consider female officers as capable of making critical decisions related to police work, and do not pay attention to the voice of their female colleagues as a result. Many women respond by shutting down and giving up attempts to make their voice heard, even when they have good ideas or valid concerns. This systematic sexism is weakening the PNTL and dis-enfranchising some of its most valuable members.
The lack of influence women hold has a negative impact on psychology and morale in the PNTL. Furthermore, women are rarely deployed to operation areas despite their desire and capability to do so. In conclusion, women are treated as subordinate members of the PNTL relegated to mostly menial management and administrative duties.
1. Recommend to SEPI and Rede Feta to create a support network in Timor-Leste to uphold the necessity and importance of female participation in the security and defense sector.
2. Recommend to the Secretary of State for Security to support women in the PNTL through increased formal and non-formal education such as giving scholarships to those with a minimal education in order to prepare them to take on leadership and decision-making roles in the organization.
3. Recommend to the commission B of the National Parliament and Women’s Group in parliament to evaluate the status of women in security sector organizations and to provide recommendations to the government in order to fix gender issues in the security sector.
4. Recommend to Secretary of State for Security to support and fund community policing activities, to create an initiative to establish volunteers for security in the Districts as a practical example of leadership from women in the PNTL.
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Director of Fundasaun Mahein
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