The police officers from around 20 OIC member states along with international human rights activists, philanthropists and gender experts Monday advocated the need to have gender sensitised police on the first day of the three-day International Gender Responsive Policing (GRP) Conference.

The conference, which started here at a local hotel, stimulated the debate on gender issues, highlighting positive developments towards improving police response to gender-based violence worldwide, focusing on emerging challenges and priorities for the future to ensure a substantial roadmap towards achieving gender just policing practices.

The conference was inaugurated by chief guest Additional Secretary Interior Hamid Ali Khan along with Almut Knopp, first secretary in German embassy in Islamabad, Ihsan Ghani, DG National Police Bureau, and Dr Khola Iram, principal advisor GRP project.

The main agenda topics on which the participants will debate in the next two days are: criminal justice system, improved response for women in distress; engaging men in combating violence against women; role of women: from words to action; communicating gender; best policing practices for addressing gender based violence; international women police networks: the power of networking and role of social media in changing the mindset of youth.

DG NPB Ihsan Ghani emphasised that the vision for organising this conference is to generate useful dialogue among the participating countries for moving forward and stimulating actions to improve the role and status of women in policing worldwide with enhanced services for women victims of violence. He further mentioned that the inclusion of women in police is imperative to make the police a fully representative institution. “Presently, women constitute about 1 percent of our total police strength, which is far from the satisfactory level of gender composition; however due to the efforts of NPB and the GRP project, almost all police organisations have announced increased quota for women recruitment,” he said.

Almut Knopp said that the cooperation of the German government with the government of Pakistan in promoting good governance is of strategic importance for Germany’s overall development in Pakistan. He appreciated the efforts by the GRP project and its strategic steps to extend the boundaries of police alliances beyond Pakistan. He said that it is heartening to see that the government of Pakistan has a vision to empower women police that can change police services for women victims of violence.

Principal Advisor Gender Responsive Policing (GRP) Project Dr Khola Iram said that it is truly a matter of great significance and pride for the project to have an excellent representation from OIC and other countries in this international conference. It is expected to generate a series of deliberations to address gender-based violence and how it leads to intolerance, frustration and extremism in the society that destroys peace and tranquility. She said that this conference will give a holistic picture of gender-based crimes in the context of culture, traditions, norms, and religious interpretations and will highlight that the society as a whole has a shared responsibility to fight crimes against women.

Additional Secretary Interior Hamid Ali Khan appreciated the support of the government of Germany in an area that definitely needs a lot of professional and technical assistance. He said the women are backbone of any nation and they must not be neglected. Pakistani society has evolved over the last few decades and the role of Pakistani women has changed and expanded dramatically. “We have seen a real transformation in women’s position in our society and the government fully supports all positive initiatives for the enhanced status of women,” he said. In the end he emphasised that the positive measures taken by the GRP project for improved role and positioning of women in police should be continued so that women in distress have better access to justice with respect.