Skopje – The representation and status of women in Border Police in the Western Balkans, the challenges as well as the professional opportunities, were the main topics of discussion at the Regional Conference: “Inclusive Border Security: The Perspectives of Female Police Officers in the Western Balkans” , which was held on 5 December 2023 in Skopje. The conference was a closing event of the regional project “Strengthening the capacities of the border police by empowering female police officers in the Western Balkans“, co-financed by the Central European Initiative (CEI) and implemented by MARRI Regional Centre.
The project was based on the fact that only inclusive institutions can effectively manage mixed migration flows and respond to the gender-specific needs of different groups. The increased participation and capacity of policewomen in the Border Police improves the ability of these structures to detect and prevent exploitation, abuse of vulnerable categories and other forms of cross-border crime. In order to assess the representation of women in the Border Police at each level of the police hierarchy, the MARRI Regional Centre conducted a survey, the findings of which are presented in the Analysis Report “Strengthening Border Police Capacities through Empowerment of Policewomen in the Western Balkans” and discussed during the conference.
In her opening remarks, the Director of MARRI Regional Centre, Snezana Trajanovska, M.Sc., pointed out that the conference marks a pivotal moment in the collective pursuit of fostering inclusive and effective border and migration management measures. These measures could not be enforced without strong institutional mechanisms, given the the multifaceted nature of gender inequalities, discrimination, and the causes of unequal gender relations. “One of the very important components of gender mainstreaming is the establishment and strengthening of internal gender institutional mechanisms (gender advisors, gender focal points, gender coordinators, etc.), which are critical for the improvement of gender equality and the implementation of a gender perspective as a cross-cutting issue. This constitutes the reason for the appointment of the Special Advisor on Gender and Equality at the MARRI RC whose tasks are to support the continuous and sustainable gender mainstreaming process across the RC” – said Director Trajanovska.
The initiator and manager of this project, Neli Rasovic, Representative of Montenegro to MARRI RC, underscored the impetus behind this pioneering effort — a quest to better comprehend the underlying factors contributing to the underrepresentation of policewomen in WB6 Border Police authorities and the challenges they face in their daily duties. “In the course of recent years, the ongoing police reforms within Western Balkans administrations have witnessed a noteworthy surge in the inclusion of women in police authorities,” noted Ms. Rasovic. “These reforms, firmly grounded in the principles of gender equality and the safeguarding of the rights of vulnerable groups, are intrinsic to international conventions that the WB6 are signatories to. Faced with the persistent challenges along the Western Balkans Route, acknowledged as one of the most active migratory corridors, it has become imperative not only to mitigate security threats but also to enhance our responsiveness to the diverse needs of migrants and all individuals crossing borders.”
The CEI representative Ugo Poli, Focal Point Migrations, praised the results of the project. He pointed out that the further dissemination of the seven recommendations derived from the research, will contribute to the MARRI Participants’ future efforts in gender mainstreaming, in the framework of the broader actions on European scale. “Women in Border Police of WB6 add value to the integration of a gender perspective in the sensitive tasks of the border police. Despite identified constrains that still hinder their full capacity to undertake leading responsibilities, they contribute to the broader efforts for substantive equality of men and women in society” said Poli.
The event was attended by representatives of the Border Police and policy makers from the Western Balkans administrations, the international community, civil society and academia. In the course of two panel discussions, the participants discussed the state of play in the region – the issues of awareness and common challenges, but also, they had the opportunity to hear positive experiences and good practices from the region and the EU Member States, exemplified by Italy.