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Gender Parity in Policing

Jaine Toth | Feb 7, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Jaine Toth | Feb 7, 2018

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Did you ever wonder what the world would be like if parity existed in the public sphere between women and men?

The Baha’i teachings tell us that human milestone will change the entire world:

So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease; for woman will be the obstacle and hindrance to it. This is true and without doubt.

It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her, there is no doubt she would be the peer of man. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 135.

Imagine, if you will, how just one public sector—policing—might change. According to David Couper, the former chief of police in Madison, Wisconsin, “Women in policing make a difference—a big difference—they make for a better police department. Haven’t you wondered why women police are not the ones involved in recent officer involved shootings? After all, they are usually smaller, somewhat weaker in physical strength, and yet they don’t appear to shoot suspects as often.”

Katherine Spillar, in a July 2, 2015 Washington Post article related that, “…over the last 40 years, studies have shown that female officers are less authoritarian in their approach to policing, less reliant on physical force and are more effective communicators. Most importantly, female officers are better at defusing potentially violent confrontations before those encounters turn deadly.”

It’s gratifying to learn that my town, Eloy, Arizona, leads the rest of the county (and probably the state and beyond) in the diversity of its police department. According to a January 7, 2018 Casa Grande Dispatch article by Heather Smathers, out of a staff of 25 sworn officers, 13 are non-white and 7 are female: that’s 52% and 28%, respectively. None of the surrounding cities came anywhere close to those percentages. Let’s hope that other departments will look to Eloy as inspiration on how diversity helps make for a more efficient and successful force.

As to the arena of politics, approximately 80% of both houses of the U.S. Congress are male, despite the fact that females make up around 50% of the country’s population. A recent report by Rutgers University reveals that “In 2018, 74 women hold statewide elective executive offices across the country; women hold 23.7% of the 312 available positions.”

But those numbers are likely to change. Due partially to the recent spate of revelations of rampant sexual harassment, assault, and exploitation throughout all elements of society, a huge spike is occurring in the number of women running for office.

Their success in attaining an equal representation is assured. Abdu’l-Baha declared that:

… the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious, For His Holiness Baha’u’llah Hath Willed It so! At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments  is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 182-183.

So far, society has been limping along lopsided, like a broken-winged bird. The day has come to mend and strengthen our wings:

… among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 301.

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  • T S
    Feb 11, 2018
    Thank you for this great article . While I don't believe that equality has to mean bringing every profession to a 50:50 gender ratio, your article highlights an example where women sharing in traditional male roles greatly improves society.
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