Thousands of Haitian women this week registered to join their country’s police academy in a campaign led by the national police service and backed by the United Nations to encourage the recruitment of more female officers.
The massive registration effort, which took place on Monday and Tuesday, was aimed at recruiting around 150 women for the 20th graduating class at the academy, which begins next month, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a press release.
“[The ongoing recruitment process is] an initiative by the leadership of the Haitian National Police (HNP) tasked with rectifying the lack of women in their institution,” said HNP spokesman Frantz Lerebours.
The Haitian police currently have 411 women out of a total of 8,032 officers, or around 5 percent of the total force, according to the press release. Mr. Lerebours pointed out that of the 400 candidates retained for the coming class, there were only five women.
But the response to the recruitment drive was very good and this was helped by an information campaign led by the HNP and supported by MINUSTAH, the release added. The UN is also offering support in terms of vetting the applications and assisting with the overall supervision of the operation.
“This effort to engage more women in the Haitian National Police (HNP) is very important not only for the way in which the police will function and be seen by the population, but also because the feminization of the national police will highlight the involvement of women in non-traditional roles as actors and agents of change in Haiti,” said Nadine Puechguirbal, MINUSTAH’s Senior Gender Advisor.
Such was the response to the recruitment drive by prospective female candidates that in the West Region of the impoverished country, almost 2,000 women applied in one centre alone.
“The Haitian National Police is scoring points. The popular perception of the force has changed in our favour. If women were hesitant to join the police force before because of its negative reputation, now much like the men they wish to be part of a winning team,” said HNP Inspector General Jean Miguelite Maxime.