Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi women in the security field: Tradition vs. Necessity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The delegates at the International Conference on Border Security, that was recently held in the Saudi capital Riyadh, unanimously agreed that there is an urgent need for the employment of women in the security services, in view of what they could achieve in dealing with issues relating to female defendants in prisons.

A field study prepared by Dr. Ghada al-Tarif, professor of criminal sociology at Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University, reported that despite the need for Saudi women to work in the field of security, women are currently limited to a selection of security posts. The problems facing women hoping to work in the field of security were summarized by general obstacles, and obstacles tied to the nature of the work, such as social and cultural traditions. The professor of sociology believed that the matter now requires more scientific studies to identify the exact obstacles facing women, and to work to overcome them, so that women can make a positive contribution to the security domain.

The study touched upon the lack of research dealing with women working in the security field in general, and studies looking into the obstacles and difficulties that they face in particular. It called upon specialists to study this topic in-depth to identify the obstacles that are preventing the active recruitment of women in the security sector, so that decision makers can develop a strategy and mechanism to address them.

Al-Tarif’s study draws upon previous studies and research carried out by a number of researchers and scholars, relating to women’s work in general and their work in the field of policing in particular, some of which were conducted on a global level, and others relating to the Arab states. One such source material was “An evaluation of the performance of policewomen in the UAE; a comparative, analytical study of female police staff in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”. The results showed that female police officers and policewomen faced a number of difficulties that weakened their desire to exert more effort and improve their performance. These difficulties included their male colleagues looking upon women as being weak, the ease of spreading rumors that can affect women and their behavior, and the media’s lack of interest in highlighting the role of women in the police.

However, the study showed an increase among young girls in wanting to join the female police force, which indicates that society is encouraging girls to participate in security work, as they are greatly needed in areas such as child welfare and penal institutions. Yet it was clear that Emirati policewomen complained of a lack of cooperation with their leaders and colleagues at work. This is despite the fact that such leaders have declared their outright encouragement for women to work in the police force, in addition to the increasing desire of female officers to open up new fields of security employment.