Why is attaining Gender Equality in the Royal SVG Police Force so difficult?
It is well documented how I feel about the management of our Police Force. In short, I think the Police Chief lacks vision and creativity. A friend told me that I am too hard on him. Sorry, I cannot accept that anyone who graduated from St. Martin’s Secondary School missed the lesson on taking responsibility and ownership for anything we get to do in life.
So, when I hear the Prime Minister (PM) on the radio making excuses for the discriminatory hiring practices of the Police Force, I quiver with disappointment. “We are limited in the number of women we can hire as police.” This was the first excuse given on behalf of the Chief. He then went on to say that some of the older police stations lack suitable accommodation for women. He said the training facility also had limited capacity to accommodate women trainees. And some of the older police stations lack adequate housing for women. These issues have been present since the Chief joined the police force over twenty years ago. A poor excuse for not hiring qualified women to serve as police officers.
My question: Why are you, Mr. PM, continuing to make excuses for the Commissioner of Police? You hired this man to run our Police Force. Please, let him do his job. Give him the tools he needs and get out of his way. It is his responsibility to put forward his needs annually like everyone else in the government. He should be justifying his needs and advocating for his people. He should be responsible for all aspects of his operations, including providing adequate facilities for his employees.
To make matters worse, rather than stopping after these excuses, the PM went on to say something unacceptable in my mind. He said it was relayed to him by the leadership in the Police Force (I am assuming the Commissioner): “One of the challenges in the Police Force, the leadership advises me, is that at the interviews women will say yes they can work the hours as men but very often when they actually get in the office, they can’t work until a certain time because they have child, and no one to take care of the child.”
There is nothing to be said about this sexist comment to make it an acceptable excuse. The rest of the world has long recognized that the deficit in hiring women is holding us back. The presence of women in police forces/services enhances community policing, among other things. You see, like it or not, women are more likely to show empathy with victims of crime, especially in cases of crimes against children. I find it interesting that we are quite anxious to militarizing our Police Force like some developed nation of the world, yet we are unwilling to follow some of the other progressive people-oriented elements like gender neutral hiring.
Gender equality in the workplace is essential as we grow and develop our country. Now is the time to put things in place to avoid discrimination. Studies have shown that an integrated workforce is more productive and will alleviate workplace conflict. Gender equality is vital to capture the skills, ideas, and perspectives that each gender offers. This is what diversity in the workplace means.
This year is an excellent year to start the correction. Let’s review our current predicament.
A few months ago, the PM said that we could effectively provide security for the nation with as low as 800 police officers. We currently have authorized 1,100 positions. We lost about 100 officers during the year due to natural attrition and a few early retirements due to conflict over the vaccine mandate. Given the current high rate of unemployment among our young people, we will have no problem filling the training academy.
However, in your words, Mr. PM, we do not need all these officers. Therefore, I’ll say this is a great year to begin fixing the gender imbalance. Why add another twenty new positions to a Force that you and I both agree is fully staffed? Why not use the funds budgeted this year to upgrade the stations and the training facility to give our young women a fighting chance to serve our nation?
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