WOMEN remain under-represented in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) with just a few of them being appointed to senior ranks, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bohang Lintle Phasumane, has said.
Deputy Commissioner Phasumane, who is also the LMPS Women’s Network Champion, said the gender inequality at the top echelons of the police service remained a major challenge despite all the advocacy for the empowerment of female officers.
She said this in a recent interview with the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of the International Women’s Day commemorations at Tšepo Christian High School in Berea. She further said the LMPS Women’s Network had a mandate to advocate for the empowerment of female police officers, equal competition in all spheres of policing, working towards combating all crimes against women and children as well as contributing towards nation building.
“Women representation in powerful positions within the LMPS is still a serious challenge,” Deputy Commissioner Phasumane told the Lesotho Times.
Our Commissioner (Holomo Molibeli) is male. His has three deputies, two of whom are male. I am the only woman and I am only in that position in an acting capacity. There are four senior assistant police commissioners and only one of whom is a woman who is also in an acting capacity. There are 11 assistant commissioners and only two of them are women. In addition, we have only one woman out of the 11 district commissioners.”
Ms Phasumane said one of the biggest factors behind the huge gender disparity was the belief that women were incapable of performing as well as their male counterparts. She said there was a “lingering perception that policing and decision-making was for strong people and not for who are the weaker sex” and this restricted the participation of women to lower positions within the force.
She added that women police were considered last for peace keeping courses and other programmes and this further reduced their chances of competing for powerful positions.
She added that in the rare cases where they were appointed to power positions, female officers still faced the challenge of having their voices heard and their input considered.
“Policing has always been considered a work for strong people that women cannot execute effectively because they are viewed as the “weaker sex. As such, women are looked down on.
“The capabilities of the few women in positions of power are still questioned. Their input in the decision-making is still doubted and most of the time that input is discarded merely because of the belief that women are incapable of making sound contributions. Our opinions are just brushed aside most of the time,” Deputy Commissioner Phasumane said, adding that discrimination had gone on for far too long that some female officers now appeared to believe that they were incapable of holding powerful positions.
“It seems that some women have adopted the mindset that they are less capable than their male counterparts and therefore they cannot compete for higher positions in the police service. This is borne out of the cultural upbringing that we women are softer and therefore we cannot be leaders.”
Deputy Commissioner Phasumane said it was entirely up to women to seize the initiative and aggressively work for their own empowerment and opportunities would certainly come their way if they worked hard.
This year’s International Women’s Day the theme is “Balance for better – a balanced world is a better world”. Deputy Commissioner Phasumane said there was need to forge for a gender-balanced world where males and females were afforded equal opportunities.
“Even in policing, we are fighting for equal opportunities for all women. The LMPS Women’s Network is a forum for the empowerment of policewomen and its vision is to have empowered and uplifted professional women who will contribute towards quality service delivery,” Deputy Commissioner said.