In the months following the launch of the Liberia National Police fund, an initiative for female police officers to undertake skills training, IDLO has been supporting professional development activities as part of the broader pursuit of access to justice in the country. Female police officers are often subject to discrimination and it can be difficult to advance in their careers. By promoting female police, the wider response to gender-based violence in Liberia can be strengthened. IDLO spoke to two students in the LNP about the progress of the course, the remaining challenges as well as their future aspirations.
My name is Lucy A.B. Dukuly and I am a beneficiary of IDLO’s scholarship for females working in the Liberia National Police. I have worked with the One Stop Centre, part of the Sexual and Gender-based Violence Unit at the James Davis Jr. Memorial Hospital for the past seven years. I learnt about the fund to study while working with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence at the center and the scholarship was opportune. In the One Stop Centre, the main challenges that we face are security, transportation, and delays in the judiciary system prosecuting cases.
I am studying Public Health with an emphasis on Health Care Policy and Management, because I want to see how policies on sexual and gender-based violence are crafted and whether these policies are implemented. I have found the course to be very unique and competitive. I have developed managerial, health care policy, implementation and leadership skills and hope to learn more skills like monitoring and evaluation, and if the opportunity is given to me to go to PhD level - even though I have not competed my master yet because I am still in school - I hope to continue.
I think these studies will help me in my work in that good policy and implementation on sexual gender-based violence would then be carried out. More broadly, this project is helping in that it enhances capacity building for females and motivates them to learn more in order to hold higher positions in society and help in policy-making. Moreover, it also helps them to become more serviceable in society.
My name is Irene M. Giddings-Cole and I am a Superintendent of Police with the Liberia National Police Force. I signed up for IDLO’s course because I want to serve my nation through law enforcement. I am studying Public Healthcare Policy and Management at the Cuttington Graduate School and Professional Studies to learn how to design and implement policy, and also how to manage scarce human resources as a manager or leader and motivate officers to produce positive results.
The course has been so interesting to me and it is also a plus for me as a law enforcer to have a diverse background in my career – I am not just a law enforcer but rather a public healthcare policymaker. So, I am a public servant in both capacities.
There are many challenges women face in the LNP, but from a broader perspective I would like to discuss three aspects that are affecting us as LNP women the most. First, our academic standards are lower due to our cultural upbringings which restrict women to caregivers. So even at the job, many of us are limited to that position. Secondly, giving equal attention to both family and your work poses serious difficulties. As a woman, there should be balance in managing your time with work and domestic affairs, which will make you a great manager. Thirdly, there are more women who have earned their first degree currently in the LNP who can serve in key positions. But because men represent 98% of authority positions and don’t want competition, women aren’t encouraged in numbers to exercise their leadership abilities.
This financing project is of great assistance to me because it has helped reduce my financial burden in terms of school and has given me more time to focus on my studies. The types of training we do enhances my ability as a leader in making informed decisions and has improved my human relations skills. The most challenging aspect has been paying for the course materials used to prepare my thesis defense, which are very costly.
As I have a desire to serve as one of the future administrators in the LNP, having knowledge in International Conflict Management is a plus in administering my day to day activities. Given Liberia is a post-conflict country there is a need to manage conflict between citizens at all times to avoid instability, and having a hold of your institution and your nation in general.
My hope or aspiration is that I would have the opportunity to be assigned in my capacity to administer the skills and knowledge acquired over the years, namely managing scarce resources, making officers very efficient at work through motivation, improving on policies made. So far in the course I have learned to manage men, resources and materials as a leader to get positive results, and I hope to gain skills and knowledge in International Conflict Management at a PhD level.
This project is funded by the United States Department of State under the program Promoting Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Liberia.