Monday, Nov. 16
LA PAZ, Bolivia – Around 120 policewomen, representing 12 countries on the continent, met in La Paz in the first week of November to analyze respect for gender equality and human rights in America’s law and order institutions.
Officers from Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, the United States, Costa Rica and Bolivia demanded gender equality and the same opportunities as their male colleagues to develop a career serving their communities.
The La Paz Declaration, read by a Nicaraguan policewoman, calls for a review of police regulatory frameworks on the continent, reported El Diario, for gender equality to cover issues ranging from the use of “sexist language” to the “visualization” of woman’s presence in law and order institutions.
The delegates also requested sensitivity from high-ranking officers to put an end to the idea that being a woman can prove to be an obstacle to developing a professional career or “cause for exclusion from the assignment of responsibilities, roles and rights.”
Bolivian Lt. Col. Rosa Lema, one the event organizers, explained to Los Tiempos that the declaration also requests the adaptation of police infrastructures to women’s needs, increased protection, investigation and follow-up in cases where the rights of agents are violated and revisions to “training course content in police institutes to include issues on human rights, gender and sexual violence.”
This point is considered vital by Bolivian policewoman. According to a report published by La Prensa in August, women officers feel like they are relegated to desk or kitchen jobs in the corps. The report resulted from an investigation by the country’s House of Representatives, which received 75 reports of sexual harassment, violence and discrimination from women police officers in police institutes during a one-year period.
Bolivian figures reflect a problem that runs through the entire region; of the country’s 26,000 police officers, just 3,000 are women. This was the reason why Bolivia was chosen to host the American meeting, because it is one of the countries where the differences in conditions for women police officers are most visible. Another meeting will be held again in 2010 to follow-up on the proposals from this first meeting.