In March 2019, the United Nations expressed its gratitude to a Rwandan Police Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police, (ACP) Teddy Ruyenzi, for her outstanding role in UN peacekeeping.
ACP Ruyenzi, who is among the top most senior police officers at the rank of ACP, the fourth topmost rank in the RNP also leads trail-blazer of 160-strong all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) in the Republic of South Sudan under the United Nations Mission in Southern Sudan (UNMISS).
The policewoman was the hallmark in recognition of the services offered by policewomen across the country and the continent.
She began her career in law enforcement in 2001 when she joined the newly created RNP and has grown through the ranks to become a two-star officer.
She rose to the rank of Chief Inspector of Police (CIP), in 2004, and continued to progress further to the echelon of the police force and assignments of increasing responsibility in various police departments.
RNP records show by 2010, the force had only 6.1% of female senior officers and at the rank of Senior Superintendent; the force had 15.7% overall representations in the whole force.
Today the force has more senior women officers composing of sixteen senior officers.
There are three commissioners of police namely ACP Tedy Ruyenzi, ACP Rose Muhisoni, and ACP Lynder Nkuranga.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, said during the 10th Police Women Convention held on March 15, that “Gender promotion in Police is both a policy and a right.”
The conference, according to the Police Chief, is organized in recognition and support of gender equality and to acknowledge the role of women in policing.”
This policy has seen the population of women in RNP grow to about 22% of the total force today.
The police management has also established a clear policy on gender balance where it envisages obtaining at least 30% female compositions in the whole force.
The force supports female officers to excel in their career through training and facilitation to have officers fully prepared to deal with 21st-century policing challenges.
For example, married female police officers are now facilitated to work near their homes due to family responsibilities related to their gender roles as mothers.
According to Senior Superintendent (SSP) Gorete Mwenzangu, the Director for Gender Promotion in the force, though it takes great input and dexterity to perform police functions, women officer continue to make monumental strides in the policing profession and those in commander responsibilities performed fairly similar to male colleagues.
“Women have a forum (RNP Women Convention) where different career guidance issues are discussed, challenges identified and debated upon” said SSP Mwenzangu.
The force has gender focal persons at every unit level and women are represented at the police council (the highest decision-making organ) in the force.
Experts say female police officers tend to use wits over strength to deescalate potentially violent situations, and as policing shift their focus to nonviolent techniques, and employ community policing methodologies, where citizens and the state jointly enforce laws, it’s natural they would tap more women as leaders.
She said research shows female officers tend to use communication to help diffuse potentially volatile situations, a technique many police departments are now shifting their focus toward, because and most importantly, it enhances collaboration with citizens through community partnerships.
“For women officers, this tends to come to them naturally,” she said.
“I think organizations that have had a lot of experience hiring women recognize how invaluable they are in diffusing contentious situations,” says SSP Mwenzangu.
The success of female officers is not, however, provided on a silver platter but comes with sheer hard work and women officers as usually encouraged never stopping pushing the envelope.
There is a peer activity where the senior always inspires young officers and sensitize others to join the force.
“Police officers face obstacles on the path to a leadership career in law enforcement; but we believe roadblocks related to gender should not be among them at RNP”, said Commissioner of Police Jean Bosco Kabera, the Commissioner Public Relations and Media.
He said those who think by only being a female in the force you cannot excel are doing so in figment.
“If given the opportunity between a male and a female, who are similarly educated and trained, I still don’t see the possibility of choosing the male candidates over our female counterparts”, said CP Kabera.
The early history of women police worldwide consisted largely of social service in which women had to meet higher standards for police employment, were restricted to a special unit or bureau, and were assigned primarily to clerical, juvenile, guard duty.
CP Kabera, who also doubles as RNP’s Spokesperson, said gender roles such as childbearing and family responsibilities, notwithstanding several women police officers, have been elevated to command positions and many work as police stations commanders, directors, heads of departments and continue to be given other operational responsibilities.
One such officer is Inspector of Police (IP), Ephigenie Uwantege, the officer in charge (OC), of Gishari Police Station.
She has been serving in that position for one year now.
Her region has significantly recorded reduced crimes during her tenure.
“I wake up every day thinking about the security of the people and once I ensure their safety, my day is energized and I work even harder, ” she said.
“I am happy each time I hear that people of this area move about without muddled from anybody,” said Uwantege.
She adds that her strength lies in the support from male colleagues, RNP leadership and community partnership.
Her counterpart at Nyamata Police Station, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP), Laeticia Kagoire says, “I see the security of lives and property as my first obligation. I am always happy seeing people sleeping with their two eyes closed”.
“Those character traits are not entirely gender-based. They are leadership-based,” CP Kabera said.