Rwanda’s National Police force this week swore in a new group of recruits, with females making up 70 of the 77 new recruits.
Police spokesman Theos Badege said the force is seeing a steady increase in female officers, but the numbers are still too low.
“Because of our constitutional obligation to have at least thirty percent women, and, of course, because our government promotes women empowerment and gender equality, this is why we’re trying to increase the number of females in the police force,” said Badege.
There are advantages to having more women in the ranks, said Badege, including their ability to address gender-based violence and child protection issues.
Badege added one reason the force needs more females is that the Rwandan National Police contributes troops to international forces as well.
“We have an increased demand in UN peace support operations for sending female police officers to UN missions like Darfur, Haiti and South Sudan,” he said.
Last year, Rwanda sent more female officers to UN peacekeeping operations than any other country.
He added that male officers have not resisted the influx of females, although they still come up against some public opposition to women in uniform.
“But, we are now ending these culture barriers,” he said. “Now women know very well they also have the opportunity to serve their country in security matters.”
Even though their numbers are up and twenty percent of the 10,000 officers in Rwanda’s National Police force are women, that still falls short of the constitutional requirement of 30%.