By Emma Kakololo
New Era recently had talks with Annemarie /Goagoses, the first female regional commander in the history of the Namibian Police.
/Goagoses was promoted on July 1 and assumed the duties of deputy commissioner as well as commander of Oshikoto Region.
She replaces Deputy Commissioner Ananias Muzile who is now the regional commander of Omaheke.
Her promotion to deputy commissioner makes her one of the only three women in the history of Nampol to be promoted to such rank after Telephena Kamati and Hilma Tweya.
Kamati is now a full commissioner.
/Goagoses talked at length about the state of affairs of women in the force and her new position.
New Era: What was your reaction when you heard about the promotion; were you surprised?
/Goagoses: No, I was not surprised at all since I was aspiring to reach decision level one day.
This is something that has been in my dreams, the wish to be a leader one day.
New Era: Are women fairly presented in the police?
/Goagoses: There are more men in the police compared to women.
This is because of the historical background of policing, because of the previous dispensation.
New Era: Would you say women are not discriminated against in the present administration? Or are there biases in police hiring, selection practices and recruitment policies that keep their numbers in law enforcement artificially low?
/Goagoses: The current situation is based on Government policy, which is supporting gender balance in general.
There are also clear guidelines for this, but implementation of this policy (National Gender Policy) goes on different stages in different government departments.
Police have employed more women compared with 10 years ago, and women have advanced reasonably in different ranks.
But it is still not satisfactory, especially in decision-making positions and at command level.
New Era: You said that the implementation of the National Gender Policy was slow in some government departments.
Is this also the case with some police departments?
/Goagoses: The guidelines they all must follow but, as a result of existing gaps, you find that more specialized fields are more occupied by male officers.
This is due to capacity, women lacking training and exposure to those areas.
For example, with vehicle investigation, women are also capable of doing this work, but more men occupy it.
Opportunities are there for women, but maybe will take time for women to be interested. In fact they are encouraged to apply.
New Era: What do you think should be done to gauge the status and growth of women in law enforcement? What should be done to make them interested in those fields?
/Goagoses: Women in the police force need mentoring and coaching programmes.
We currently have a gender desk doing everything it can, but we are not yet at that level. Lack of resources is also playing a role.
Sometimes police say the positions are there for women, but they don’t have money to fill them.
This is because the budget is not gender-responsive.
You cannot implement a policy if there are no funds – this is an obstacle.
There is gender discrimination in the police, but not explicit.
The implementation of the National Gender Policy is very slow.
New Era: Do you think female officers could make a valuable contribution to community policing?
/Goagoses: Yes, if given the opportunity to do so. By nature, women are more caring human beings – they are mothers and also take up other roles in the community.
They are equally better placed to contribute to community policing.
New Era: And do you think they could improve police response to female victims?
/Goagoses: Definitely they can, especially when it comes to sexual crimes such as rape and other violent crimes.
If a woman is raped, due to the trauma and nature of the crime, it is easier for a woman emotionally to narrate this horrific experience to fellow women rather than men.
New Era: What do you pre-empt would be the major challenges in your job?
/Goagoses: The perception that women cannot be commanders, is a possible challenge. Since I am the first female commander, I must prove this myth wrong.
The other challenge concerns my policing area of responsibility.
Due to the geographical set-up, there are a lot of movements of people and goods in my region.
Oshikoto is centrally located, and I will have to intensify my operational strategies.
New Era: Do you have a strategy for your new responsibility?
/Goagoses: Yes, my approach will be to intensify community policing in the region with the emphasis on problem-solving and effective engagement of all stakeholders.
Internally, my management approach is based on motivation, a participatory management philosophy.
New Era: And your message to fellow female officers?
/Goagoses: Self-development and confidence are key to success in the police field.
Believe in yourself and grow the organization.