Abu Dhabi: The Emirati Women Police Association (EWPA) is the first in the Arab world to be affiliated to the International Association of Women Police (IAWP).
The affiliation was announced at the First Women Police Conference 2012 that took place on Sunday at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
"This affiliation is the first of its kind in the Middle East. Women's presence in police work was indispensable to respect women's privacy when dealing with them," said Lieutenant General Saif Abdullah Al Shafar, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Interior.
"I firmly believe that the EWPA will grow from strength to strength, leading the way for other Arab nations in allowing women to fully contribute to the policing of their communities," said Jane Townsley, chairman of the IAWP.
The three-day conference aims to highlight the role of women in police organisations, regionally and internationally, recognising the latest international approaches of women policing and identifying the challenges women face in policing careers.
"This conference is a great opportunity for women in police to network with each other, share expertise about police methods and support each other," Corporal Donna Saucier from Delaware State Police, told Gulf News.
Detective Myra James, third vice-president at Hamilton Police Service, shared with Gulf News some of the challenges Emirati policewomen face.
"Emirati policewomen cannot arrest men, which is a significant challenge. I don't think there are Emirati female bomb explosive officers or K9 officers. Some policewomen told me that they will never have the opportunity to ride a motorcycle. This is understandable as Emirati police women don't have female role models to follow yet. That's why they don't seek out those opportunities," she said.
First Lieutenant Amnah Mohammad, chairperson of EPWA, told Gulf News that the main goal, and also challenge, the young organisation faces, is to see women serving in all police divisions.
The International Association of Women Police (IAWP) was founded in 1915.
In the past century, it has grown and evolved into an international organisation dedicated to assisting women working in criminal justice all over the world. The IAWP has members from 55 countries including US, Canada, UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh and South Africa.