Commissioner Rebecca Nnanga,from Cameroon, is one of two finalists for the 2020 Female Police Officer of the Year Award. She was rewarded for helping to increase the number of female police officers in the Central African Republic. She spoke with Franck Kuwonu of Africa Renewal about this success, her experience in community policing and helping survivors of gender-based violence.
How does it feel to have come second?
I am very proud to have participated in this competition and to have been recognized for my personal abilities, my intrinsic values and my actions. It is in honor of all women.
You have been rewarded for increasing the participation of women in the police force of the Central African Republic. How did you do it?
We realized that the number of women in the police and other institutions was very low. In 2017, only 23% of the police force was women. So we wanted to improve the situation. We started with the entrance exams, we not only took into account the gender of the candidate, but also merit and regional representation. We then compared the grades and identified women who were sufficiently qualified but had a low score, and we offered to train them more.
So there was no affirmative action policy, which means that you did not set a quota at the outset?
Absolutely! There was no favoritism, we took the ones that deserved it. That is how we have been able to increase the rate of women in the police. There is a bit of antipathy towards women entering the police profession. Many thought that the police were reserved for men. Yet, I would say it is the opposite. I took a course on women's policing at the International School of Security Forces in Yaoundé, Cameroon. I was one of the first female officers to be trained in policing and that is why I want to make it clear to others that women should not be confined to household chores. They are able to do many other things.