Author: Bibby, Claire1
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021
Resistance and impediments to implementing 1325
The women’s perspective
This part of the research is to identify the barriers, resistance and impediments to implementing 1325, which could potentially be turned into opportunities for enhanced communication strategies. When asked where the resistance is and what the impediments are, the women talked about a lack of leadership at the highest levels. The women felt that high level engagement from the lead agency MFAT was lacking and that the police executive and the Police Minister could do more to advocate for the plan. They felt the backing of police management is needed to get constant movement on the National Action Plan, reasoning that if NZ Police demonstrate their commitment to the plan, then the ISG will be in a better position to demonstrate its effectiveness in countries where they work by “walking the talk.” Men are seen as having an important role as “males can sometimes be the strongest leaders and champions for gender progress.”
The women cited other impediments as “ingrained attitudes, taking time to change”, “lack of desire”, “apathy”, “people not believing in it” and “lack of knowledge about the existence of the plan.” Where the plan is known, it was being “marginalised for ‘more important things’” and treated as a “tick the box exercise.” Instead of being valued, it was seen by some police as a “nice to have.” Sometimes it could be a “switch off ” topic. It was felt that immediate gains could be achieved with “management buy-in at all levels and champions to drive it forward.” Management could make it a core requirement, business as usual, and change the mind-set of staff from “another thing they have to do”.
Women felt progress is being “limited by tradition and cultural aspects both in NZ Police and especially in Pacific Islands.” The traditional views of male and female roles were seen as being “promoted by both men and women.” The women are conscious that police need to role model good practice internationally and to start by doing this in the NZ Police workplace. Two areas of communication in the workplace were given as examples that police could improve. This is the language used to describe women (which women said continued even when perpetrators had been asked to stop) and for people to stop making negative comments about women. One woman noted that female managers appeared to be judged more critically about their performance than men. One woman explained it as internal bias saying “We need to acknowledge the fact that some persons, both internally within NZ Police and externally, within the communities we work with, may have opinions or internal bias which may be based on a number of factors (including but not limited to their upbringing and religion) which lead them to feel or behave in a way which is contra to what we are trying to achieve…. If we are trying to encourage more female participation/representation at a senior level with the host countries or at particular events/activities or changing a cultural norm, there may be push back from our counterparts or communities. Possibly even from the women themselves.”4
4 The ISG said that ‘Knowledge, attitudes and practices’ surveys are one method they use to better understand their international workplace.