“Everything in my life changed for the better when I joined the municipal police two years ago. I was one of two girls to join at the time and, although the second girl decided this wasn’t the career for her, I felt encouraged when a female motorist drove past me while I was in uniform and shouted “Long live women”! I felt proud – proud as a woman and proud as a police agent,” explains Bushra, one of Antelias’ most active municipal police agents.

We met Bushra in Antelias last year, where we closely support the head of the municipal police with the development of his unit.  The municipality of Antelias is one of many across Lebanon partaking in the reform program launched by UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior & Municipalities, with the aim of transforming the municipal police into a people-centered service.

 At the core of this reform program is the recruitment of female agents - who like Bushra play an essential role in ensuring the security of the communities they serve. With the support of the Governments of Canada and of the United Kingdom, UNDP has promoted an increased participation of women within municipal police and, more broadly, within security institutions.  

“It wasn’t always easy to be on the streets as a female agent though. At first, people didn’t really accept me, especially men. Quite simply, they didn’t feel they needed to take me seriously. I had to work out my own approach to the role. I think women bring a different skill set to the municipal police. We speak and communicate with people differently. We engage and connect differently. We’re more patient and empathetic as well,” she continues. 

UNDP also carried out a study to better understand the challenges obstructing women’s participation in Lebanon’s MP. The study provides insights on the working conditions of women agents,  and offers a set of recommendations intended to promote and facilitate their participation.

Increasing women’s representation in police services such as the municipal police is at the heart of of gender sensitive police reform. It is essential to addressing the differentiated security needs of women and men, and greatly contributes to building trust between police and community. Police services must be representative of the population they are tasked of protecting,” explains Nino Karamaoun, UNDP’s Chief technical advisor on Human Rights & Rule of Law.

“Today, as I step onto the street in my role as a municipal police agent in Antelias, I do so in a very special way – I’m currently 8-months pregnant. Add to this the COVID-19 pandemic, and this brings a whole new level of complication in combining all three safely! People call me brave – I don’t know, that’s not really for me to judge, but if I think about it, life has made me brave and I will never quit. Nothing stops women from doing anything - even if they are pregnant, and even in the time of the coronavirus. My love for this job makes me stronger and even more determined,” explains Bushra.

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