Women in Law Enforcement Regional Conference
March 14, 2018
Remarks by Ambassador Jean Manes at the Women in Law Enforcement Regional conference
they summon you to a meeting, you enter the room, you go to the table, you sit and look around, and you realize that you are the only woman there.
I know you do not have to imagine that.
I’m sure it’s something they’ve experienced before, because this is the reality of a woman who enters a non-traditional career.
It’s about races like these, like police, where the gender inequality gap is more than evident.
I applaud you for the tremendous courage you show in remaining committed to a career that is not only untraditional,
but frankly, threatens their lives on a daily basis.
I know that the challenges for Salvadoran police women and the region go far beyond just fighting to be included in an institutional organization chart.
In my own country, the percentage of women in the police is low – only 11.4%,
which is a difference of only a few points of 8.6% of women police officers in El Salvador.
It is a very low percentage, especially considering that 52.9% of the Salvadoran population are women.
Despite the advances, the road is long to ensure inclusion.
Gender inequality is a problem that transcends borders and affects many women in many countries in many different ways.
Regional conferences like these, in which you have the opportunity to hear stories from other women
who have faced the same challenges as you, and to learn from their experiences, are an important part.
But in the end, the real work in this fight takes place outside of conferences and workshops.
When you return to your headquarters, you will find the same reality, but now you will have new tools and a kind of support network with your colleagues.
This can make the difference between surrendering to an adverse environment or finding the strength to continue transforming it.
As they advance in their career, they will realize that the higher they climb, the fewer women they will find, and that is why it is important to create these alliances, work together and build a support network that shares the same interests as you.
I tell you this because I have lived it myself when I went through my career in the foreign service.
Nobody will make space for us, we must forge it ourselves.
And not only for our personal well-being, but for our power to be collective.
We must reinforce the voices of all women, because a single voice can be powerful, but a chorus is relentless.
There will always be those who will say that you do not belong there, they will say that they have not earned their place at the table.
And when you are the only one up there, those voices are many and very strong.
But can you imagine what it would be like if all the meeting rooms looked a little more like this room, with more women sitting at the table?
So, the contribution of women would have less to do with gaining space
and more with contributing their own perspectives to solve the most difficult problems,
those that the traditional leaders find almost impossible to solve.
Our history as women has always been built on the backs of those who were before us.
We have the right to vote because there were other women who fought for it.
They have the right to be part of the police force because there were women who fought for it.
Today is your turn to fight for the rights of the women that will come after you,
to help pave the way for women in the police force to be treated fairly
and have the possibility to give their contribution to the leadership of the institution.
For women to be represented at all levels of the entities responsible for ensuring their safety.
Feel proud of your achievements and the goals you have achieved.
Be assured that they deserve your badges, your uniforms and your ranks.
They have earned their place at the table.
Your voice is valid and what you have to say is important.
And keep your union, supporting each other to move forward women in the country and the region.
This country needs women like you, brave, strong and determined,
because behind every woman there is a family, and behind a family there is a community, and behind a community there is a country.
But talking is not enough.
To generate change, we must act, and every day is an opportunity to generate that change.