UNDP supports female leaders in Afghan police force

31 May 2011

Kabul – Twenty-one police officers wearing headscarves, or hijab, sit in a classroom at the Kabul Police Academy typing into computers, creating organizational diagrams and entering data.

They are part of a cadre of trainees working on the last part of a three-month leadership course run by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior which oversees the national police force.

“They’re writing a case file,” says an instructor who remains anonymous to protect her identity.

The course, taught within the ministry’s Gender Mainstreaming Unit, is aimed at training female officers in a range of skills, including management, accounting and information technology.

One student, whose name is also withheld, has 25 years of police experience and is head of the narcotics unit at the Kabul-based Criminal Justice Task Force.

“Most police officers, male or female, lack these skills,” she says. “Before, many of these women didn’t even know how to turn on a computer.”

The training, which came as a result of a 2010 survey, was supported by the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

On-the-job training is a key component of a national strategy to equip female officers with skills to rise through the ranks of the force. In addition, the strategy aims to increase the number of female police in the country’s national force from 1,000 to 5,000 by 2014.

“This is the first time I’ve attended such a useful training,” said another female officer, in the force for 15 years and now head of education and training at the Gender Mainstreaming Unit.

“Whatever I learn in the afternoon, the next day I try to apply at work,” she said, referring to new systems she set up in her office after taking courses in records and file management.

“After this training I’ve learned the qualities of being a leader.”

The Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) is a multilateral Trust Fund set up in 2002 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Trust Fund has provided a mechanism for coordinating contributions from international partners with the main priorities of covering police salaries, improving police infrastructure, capacity development and gender enhancement in the Ministry of Interior, as part of the international community’s support to rebuild and develop the Afghan police force. LOTFA has 19 donors including the government of Japan, which contributed $180 million in 2010.