Gender dimension of representation of Police officers in high ranks in Zambia Police Service
Shipolo, Sylvester Musonda
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Gender equality in all areas and at all levels was well appreciated by the world community especially when it’s promotion reached the climax during the fourth UN conference in Beijing in 1995 (Hilka, P. and Jeanne, V. 1995). Member states including Zambia participated in making declarations to promote gender equality even in Zambia Police Service. However gender equality in high ranks in Zambia Police Service is far from being a reality. Statistics obtained from police records reveal low levels of representation of female police officers in high ranks in Zambia Police Service. High ranks are dominated by male police officers. This study, therefore, was initiated to examine the factors that influence low levels of representation of female police officers and high levels of representation of male police officers in high ranks in Zambia Police Service; to assess the gender sensitivity in the promotion of officers in Zambia Police Service; to examine police officers’ views on the promotion of female police officers to high ranks and to analyse the qualifications required in the promotion of police officers to high ranks, with a view to recommending ways of increasing the levels of representation of female police officers in high ranks and thereby contribute to the promotion of gender equality at all levels and in all areas in Zambia and the world at large. The aim of the study was attained through a descriptive cross section study on conveniently and purposively selected sample of 100 respondents from Lusaka Province’s Chelstone, Central and Emmasdale Police Stations and the Police Service Headquarters. A self administered questionnaire, focus group discussion guide, record review guide and an in-depth interview were used to collect data. The study revealed that a number of factors are at play towards levels of representation of police officers in high ranks in Zambia Police Service between male officers and female officers. Negative attitude, lack of gender policy, lack of a gender expert as focal person, lack of gender disaggregated data and discrimination are some of the common factors which affected gender equality in the levels of representation of female and male police officers in high ranks in Zambia Police Service. Arising from the study, it is therefore, highly recommended that affirmative action be taken in the Zambia Police Service to address the issue of gender inequality in high ranks between female and male police officers. This must include the opening up of a gender section and appointment of a gender expert to man the same department in whose expertise policy will have a gender consideration. The negative attitude towards the promotion of female police officers to high ranks and gender disaggregated date can be adequately attended to by the gender expert. The appointment of the gender expert as gender focal person is cardinal as he will also coordinate all matters pertaining to gender in the Zambia Police Service as well as coordinating with other external gender institutions for exchange and update of ideas.