In an interview for IBNA news agency, the head of this forum, Enkeleda Toska (photo) talks about the mission of the Forum and its projects. She explains for IBNA’s readers as to why must police image change, as an institution which guarantees order and protects common goods. Meanwhile, she says that the growing participation of women and girls in the police service has a positive impact in offering safety for everyone
IBNA: What does the Women’s Forum at the State Police represent?
Women’s Forum at the State Police was created under the auspice of the State Police Workers Union, Albania and it has started its activity in 2011. Its members consist on the girls and women who are in the Albanian police force. It’s a network expanded throughout all of Albania and its Steering Committee has a representative from all district police forces in the country. Its mission is the representation, improvement and strengthening of the position of women in the Albanian state police.
IBNA: Why was the Forum born?
It was born at a time of need. Since 1993, when for the first time in the history of the Albanian police, Interior Minister of that time signed the Order to accept women in the Public Order Academy, year after year, a significant number of women police officers joined the service. These officers needed to feel represented and they could only do this through their network which makes their voice be heard.
IBNA: How does the Forum help women in the force?
Women’s Forum doesn’t help women, but encourages and supports their development as efficient police officers, their preparation for the role of leadership, supports them as they go up in the command chain, represents them in the Police Union and defends their rights in what was once “a man’s world” in the Albanian police force.
By being organized, by talking to each other, by promoting “role model”, the successful women in the force, we offer our contribution in order for the State Police to be fully represented in the community that it serves.
IBNA: What distinguishes in the work of this forum?
Since the very beginning, the Forum has collaborated with General Police Directorate, by offering its contribution on a national and international level.
The forum has lobbied and advocated on issues of gender equality in our services by raising the awareness of senior officials; for a better representation in work groups engaged in the legislative and structural reforms; the protection of the interests of women in the bill for the state police, the drafting of a policy for a safer environment in the working environment/protection from harassment and the preservation of the standards achieved so far in order to take them forward.
IBNA: Recently, we’ve seen the creation of the children Police Academy “Security starts from me”. Can you tell us more on this novelty?
The Academy has been funded by the “Swedish Support for the ministry of Interior and State Police” program to help community policing. In fact, it aims to build sustainable relations between police and community by increasing the security of children. The project was perceived based on three main components: theory training in the classroom, outdoor activities consisting on creative works by children and sport activities and study visits in working police environments, including special forces. We have also changed the perception of children for the police worker, who, since a very young age, must be their greatest friend and not a reason to fear. We also expect an impact in the domain of recruitment encouraging a greater participation in the police forces, especially for women.
IBNA: What encouraged you for such incentives?
We’re police officers and our duty is to prevent crime and increase safety among community. But, we’re also mothers and sisters and in our families, dangers are the same as in any other family. So, we were thinking about ways on how to contribute for the prevention of crime and increase of trust in the community and especially among children and young people. The best way to do this is by educating the young generation. Therefore, we initially perceived Police Academy for Children with the motto: Security starts from me. The focus group on this project includes children aged 12 to 14. I believe that the education of young people of this young age is only the start of a cycle of education which must include all other youth age groups.
IBNA: How must the police figure be viewed by the citizens, starting from young ages?
We’re focused on the education of children and young people in order to prevent their involvement in criminal activities. What’s important is to raise their awareness and how they should react in potential incrimination situations. So, we try to contribute in education a generation which no longer sees the police officer as a scary figure, but as a figure that protects them from bad phenomena in the society and who guarantees safety for everyone. /ibna/