UN Raises Alarm Over Kenyan Female Police Officers

Kenya Female Police officers
Kenya Female Police officers take part in a parade on June 30, 2019.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, has expressed concerns over the declining number of female officers in the National Police Service (NPS).

On Saturday, August 5, the organisation which champions women's rights revealed that in 2018, the number of registered female police officers stood at 14,042.

However, the number sharply declined to 13,279 in 2021 and has continued to plunge further in the subsequent years, hence cutting women from vital employment opportunities.

"Addressing challenges in policing for women will reverse the decline and bring a comprehensive approach to policing," the UN Women stated.

Police officers
A group of Police Officers who were awarded for exemplary performance by Businessman Manu Chandaria on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

Female police officers, according to the organisation that champions women's rights, account for 11 per cent of the total National Police Service workforce.

By 2021, the number of female officers in the National Police Service had significantly reduced to 9 per cent, denoting a setback for gender equality in Kenya.

UN Women also noted that women are less represented in key institutions in society due to many factors, including stereotypes about their role in society, which may discourage women from pursuing a career in law enforcement.

It added that female police officers in Kenya are facing significant challenges, with a lack of support both within the police force and society at large. 

Among the key issue it wants to be addressed is the unfair recruitment that discriminates against women, hindering their advancement and representation in the police service. 

As a result, the United Nations called on the NPS to look into various issues affecting women and increase the number of female officers in the police force.

According to the human rights body, mitigation measures that can be adopted include raising awareness of the importance of gender equality in the police force and providing support for female officers, both on and off the job.

As of March 2023, there were 106,830 police officers in the National Police Service, of which 99,373 are male and 7,457 are female. This data was presented in a report submitted to the Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity in May 2023. 

With an average of 1 police per 191 people in Kenya, the limited representation of female officers emphasizes the importance of promoting gender diversity and equality within the police force. 

President William Ruto inspecting a GSU passout parade on January 12, 2023
President William Ruto inspecting a GSU pass out parade on January 12, 2023.