“The day my family was celebrating my entry to the Faculty of Literature, I announced that I no longer wanted to study in that field,” says Gulafrooz Ebtekar, a police officer in Afghanistan.
“I told them I wanted to join the police so that I could do more important things for myself and other women.”
Gulafrooz, 26, is the first woman police officer in Afghanistan to hold a master’s degree in Military Science. She grew up in Daikondi province, one of the poorest parts of Afghanistan, where educational opportunities are limited.
“Access to education in Daikundi was very poor, especially for girls, so I went to Kabul to find a way to achieve my ambitions,” says Gulafrooz. When she reached Kabul, she joined the police force and then later won a scholarship to study in Russia.
“I studied criminal law and security sciences so that I could become a positive role model for female police in the country.” In Russia, her research on the upbringing of offenders’ children won her an award as a young researcher.
After her studies, she returned to Afghanistan to continue with the police force, this time with renewed enthusiasm and knowledge. Working as a police officer is challenging, and Gulafrooz has faced many difficulties and obstacles. Many of the cases she deals with involve violence against women and children. To give her strength, she draws inspiration from her mother.
“My mother is the biggest teacher in my life, she taught me to follow my ambitions outside the house,” says Gulafrooz. While education for girls is still considered unacceptable in some parts of the country, Gulafrooz was lucky, in that her family was different. Her father supported her too, and pushed for his children to learn in the face of criticism from neighbours.
“My sister and my brother also joined the police,” says Gulafrooz. “We became a military family with the same goals and dreams.”
Gulafrooz works hard to make an environment free from violence and inequality. She thinks that as a human being, everyone deserves to be treated equally, beyond gender, color and beliefs. She encourages women to gain an education so that they are valued for themselves, not as a person’s wife, someone’s sister or someone’s daughter.
The governments of Turkey and Afghanistan entered an agreement that led to the training of the Afghan National Police (ANP) in the Sivas Police Training Academy (SPTA) since 2011. On 1 November 2018, UNDP facilitated the seventh term of the female ANP training programme, which consisted of 164 female recruits. UNDP also facilitated the first Training of Trainers (ToT) programme with 20 female enrollees at the SPTA, that took place in October 2018.
Currently, the ANP force consists of 3,059 policewomen, of which 680 policewomen were trained at SPTA via UNDP’s programme. UNDP, through the consistent support from the Government of Japan, will continue to support the MoIA in the recruitment and development of policewomen through their SPTA programme. The next phase will increase the number of female recruits as well as investing in the advancement of serving policewomen via specialized training courses.
UNDP also continues with follow-up support to policewomen via workshops on roles and responsibilities, sexual harassment, EVAW Law, women’s and human rights, among other subjects.