Opening the National Center for Women and Policing’s (NCWP) 7th Annual Conference, Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, warned of the growing backlash to women in policing. The number of women in police agencies of 100 or more sworn officers decreased from 14.3 percent in 1999 to 12.7 percent in 2001, according to the latest survey conducted by NCWP. “The cut back in affirmative action and the loss of consent decrees mandating the hiring and/or promotion of women and minorities has begun to reverse the very modest gains women have made in law enforcement over the last thirty years,” said Smeal, who also predicted that “Without the willingness of the Department of Justice to bring lawsuits and negotiate consent decrees to remedy discriminatory hiring practices by law enforcement agencies, the percentage of women in law enforcement will likely decrease further.”
In her remarks, Smeal also highlighted the striking similarities between the backlash US women are experiencing in the fight for equality and the backlash Afghan women faced under the Taliban. “In both cases, you see male-dominated power structures that are afraid to allow women for fear that they will clean them [the institution] up,” said Smeal.
The National Center for Women and Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation, promotes increasing the numbers of women at all ranks of law enforcement as a strategy to improve police response to violence against women, reduce police brutality, and strengthen community policing reforms.