Young women encouraged to join national police of Timor-Leste

03 Mar 2014

The National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) are increasing their efforts to recruit more women to the force. Supported by UNDP, the first campaign specifically targeting young women will run for the entire month of March.  Comprised of two TV commercials (Promotion and Recruitment), two radio commercials and one video, the campaign will be broadcast daily on Timor’s national broadcaster, RTTL.

“We really need to ensure that we have more women in the PNTL,” said Umbelina Soares, PNTL Assistant Superintendent. “Women bring a sense of stability and security to the communities we work in. A lot of the violent crime in Timor-Leste is unfortunately gender-based. Sexual assault, physical assault, mental abuse, economic oppression; these crimes tend to target women.  Women police have better access to victims as they feel comfortable to talk to them and report crimes.”

The commercials and video were designed to promote existing women officers by showcasing the variety of roles they have in the PNTL and to highlight the qualities that are needed for cadets.

“We wanted to show that women are involved in all aspects of police work, from forensics, to maritime, to special forces, to transit police,” says Soares. “We also wanted young women to know that if they want to join the police, they have to make sure they are in good health and physical fitness, finish their schooling and have strong ethics.”

There are currently 590 women working in the PNTL, representing 18 per cent of the total police force. While 18 per cent seems high compared to other countries in the region, it is insufficient to meet the needs of Timor-Leste.  The Government’s Demographic Health Survey of 2010 indicates that 38% of Timorese women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. And in spite of the Law Against Domestic Violence, promulgated in 2010, it is estimated that 30 to 50 per cent of Timorese women continue to suffer abuse from their partners at some point in their relationship.

About Strengthening National Police Capacity in Timor-Leste

Since March 2011, the Policia National de Timor-Leste (PNTL) has been in complete charge of the country’s law enforcement and public security – the first time since they were formed in 2002. While the national police force has come a long way since then, the PNTL High Command identified key areas that they wanted strengthened, particularly in communications, information technology, human resources, asset management and fleet maintenance.

In 2013 the United Nations Development Programme and PNTL started a two-year capacity building project in these priority areas. The project places five specialists and national civilians to work in the PNTL units of public relations, human resources, IT and logistics. A senior technical adviser provides support to the PNTL High Command.

The project builds on the work of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and aims to improve governance by strengthening the management and administrative capacity of officers within the PNTL Headquarters.