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UN Police Award Phyllis Osei: ”A shining example of how women contribute directly to peace”.

if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation”, says Ms. Phyllis Ama Tebuah Osei, quoting Ghanaian scholar Kwegyir Aggrey. Ms. Osei, who is serving with the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), received the annual United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year Award, last Monday at United Nations Headquarters in NY.

 

Ms. Osei, a Superintendent of Police from the Ghana Police Service, was selected for the Award for her contributions in enhancing the protection of women and girls, as well as her initiatives to promote women rights in the host state police.

 

UN Police spoke to the Awardee.

 

UNPOL How did you first learn that you were the 2018 recipient of the Award?

Osei I received an email from my supervisor. It was a great surprise and I am extremely honored and humbled to be the United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year Award. I am greatly privileged for this recognition and commendation for the work that I carried out jointly with many colleagues in Somalia especially the female police officers in the national police, AMISOM and UNSOM, who brought into my vision of starting an adult literacy program in Kismayo.

 

UNPOL When were you deployed in Kismaayo?

Osei I was deployed to Kismayo on 3 February 2018 to provide, among other tasks, strategic advice to the Somali Police and the local authorities.

 

UNPOL One of the purposes of this award is to recognize a female UN Police Officer exemplary work in the field. Can you highlight some of your accomplishments?

Osei I am guided by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which recognizes the different impact of conflict on women and men, and the fact that women have critical roles to play to contribute to peace and security. I was motivated by the resolution to see what could be done to improve the lives of women and children in my working environment. I was also inspired to empower my fellow female police officers in Kismayo – Jubaland, having already noticed that a majority of the local female police officers are in the junior positions, serving as Privates/Constables, and not in decision making capacities with only a limited number of them (10 out of 60) being able to read and write Somali language,

 

UNPOL Concretely, what did you do to help them overcome this challenge?

Osei I reached out to the leadership and with my counterparts in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia :UNSOM} and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) we decided to start an adult literacy training program with the support of the Jubaland Police Chief. Upon my recommendation, UNSOM and AMISOM jointly assessed the situation and discovered we had three Language Assistants (one female) who spoke English and Somali and we also had additional material resources. We met with the local female police officers and agreed on a timetable for the start of the classes. The classes have been running since June this year and expected to end by December 2018 where the local female police officers who pass an assessment test will move to the next level where they will be assisted to improve their proficiency in the Somali language. This phase will be facilitated in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Education of Jubaland State.

 

UNPOL Are you happy with what you have accomplished so far?

Osei Though the progress is slow, a significant number of the local female police officers on the literacy program can now identify letters and simple words in Somali. Seeing these women improve by the day has been a source of joy and encouragement for me.

 

UNPOL You also facilitated training on sexual and gender-based violence; how did you approach the local communities?

Osei Confidence-building is first step to success in an early attempt to help women and girls at risk and being an African women is a great advantage. Female Police Officers have easy access and are well accepted in the community. Thanks to the help of the communities and the local authorities, I established four gender desks in the host state police, facilitated a training on sexual and gender-based violence {SGB}, and initiated a proposal that called for the establishment of a police post near the community thus ensuring access for SGBV survivors.

 

UNPOL What’s next?

Osei Seeing these women improve by the day has been a source of joy and encouragement for me.

As a long-term solution, we will continue our advocacy work to sensitize women and girls to their rights. As for literacy, the New Policing Model adopted by the Somali people has highlighted that literacy is a basic requirement for entry into the Police Service and therefore as a Police Adviser, I will continue to encourage the hierarchy of the Jubaland State Police Service to ensure that this criterion is strictly adhered to. In addition, UNSOM Police through my initiative has incorporated literacy programme in the Gender Action plan for serving female Police Officers as a means of bridging the literacy gap to create more equal chances for future promotions.

 

UNPOL What are the overall benefits to the Somali society?

Osei The benefits that will accrue from such an investment in our police women is that, if the police officers become literate, they can teach their children at home and this will in the long term provide job opportunities for their children thereby reducing their vulnerability and equipping them with necessary skills for the future. May I also say that tomorrow's problems demand bright and hard-working individuals to solve them, and the only way we can encourage these individuals is by acting together as a community to provide support to women. Even modest initiatives like the one I started, can make an enormous difference for those who benefit from it. Let us support the Secretary-General’s Gender Parity Strategy and empower our women to greater heights.

 

UNPOL Phyllis Osei, thank you

Osei You are very welcome.