Attention! SAPS salutes its women
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International Women’s Day has been commemorated for well over a century, with the first gathering in 1911 supported by more than a million people. It is now a campaign that is owned by all of us universally.
South Africa has ratified various instruments that aim to achieve gender equality which is one of the sustainable development goals to be realised before 2030 and the SAPS has to participate and contribute to the success of this endeavour.
As one of the largest departments in the South African government, the SAPS has taken great strides in advancing the women agenda in the organisation. However, a lot is yet to be achieved for us to finally say that our female employees are totally emancipated from all forms of deprivation.
The emancipation of women should speak to the empowerment of women, enabling them to take strategic positions in all meaningful sectors of society.
Since 2000, remarkable strides have been made to address gender equality and this is reflected in all environments of policing. In 2000, only 1% of senior management in the SAPS constituted women.
Women are currently occupying several senior management positions with 43.3% on the level of lieutenant-general, 15.38% on the level of major-general and 37.54% on the level of brigadier. Overall representation of women on all levels in the organisation currently stands at 37.32%.
Many women in the organisation are also now occupying previously male-dominated posts in the operational environments and specialised units such as the pilots in the air wing, K9 and mounted units, national intervention units, tactical response teams and mobile operations as well as Public Order Policing units, to name but a few.
They are making a significant difference in the fight against crime, paving the way for generations
of other women to follow in their footsteps.
On August 30, 2018, a historic mark was made on our calendar as the SAPS Women’s Empowerment Agenda 2019-2024 was launched, the first in the history of the organisation. This agenda addresses the empowerment of women in the SAPS in a five-year plan and their competitiveness in global policing to overcome all gender-related challenges and to allow sustainable growth and development.
The SAPS furthermore has an approved Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Policy and measures have been put in place to ensure that women representation is prioritised in training, development and allocation of bursaries, among other initiatives.
The SAPS embraces this year’s Women’s Day celebrations guided by the theme “#EachForEqual” which in essence advocates for the creation of a gender equal world where women are afforded the same level of respect, equal treatment and equal remuneration for the same type of jobs as their male counterparts. The theme further advocates for an open celebration of women’s achievements.
It is encouraging that the numbers of women in law enforcement and especially the SAPS are increasing and this encourages momentum towards the creation of a more balanced public safety force. This is partially fuelled by a growing appreciation of certain unique and valuable professional qualities that women often bring to law enforcement.
The SAPS has taken up the responsibility of improving women empowerment and competitiveness in policing to overcome gender discrimination and intensify sustainable career growth and development.
Naidoo is SAPS national spokesperson.