Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rose Muhisoni, who currently serves as the Mess Manager is one of the longest serving female officers in Rwanda National Police (RNP).
She joined the Force at its inception in 2000 and has served in different capacities over the years. In an interview, SSP Muhisoni reflects onher journey as one of the first senior female police officers:
“My story begins in 1994 when I was serving as the Director of Judicial Police at the Ministry of Justice in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In 1997, I took a judicial police course in Canada, where I witnessed police officers, male and female, work together to ensure safety of their community,” she says.
“By working with police officers on a daily basis during my studies, I began to appreciate the work of law enforcers in promoting justice and peace. So when I returned to Rwanda, I had a strong desire to work in a sphere that would enable me to directly promote fairness and justice – so I joined RNP in 2000 as a new force.”
The mother of four had also served as a school teacher in Burundi prior to 1994. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law.
After joining Police, she pursued a Masters in Peace Studies; and it is due to her experience that she believes that women have equal opportunities like men in Police and other public institutions.
“Serving in Police is just like any other job. As long as one is passionate about what they do, they will succeed, whether they are male or female. I sometimes come across young women who still think that they can only succeed if they get favours – but this attitude is bad. Everyone should be competitive and make the most of the opportunities they get,” she says.
SSP Muhisoni rose through the ranks at Police, serving in numerous positions such as Head of Child Abuse and Female Protection Unit (2000), Head of Human Resource Section (2002), Head of Anti-GBV Section (2005) and Director of Gender Promotion (2012).
She also served under the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for two years, as well as successfully completed the Senior Command and Staff Course, the highest Police academic course.
“Rwanda is a success story for women. We have equal rights with our male counterparts and have numerous platforms on which we can serve our nation,” she notes.
It is stories like hers that have inspired many women to join the national police. When RNP was formed, it hardly had any female police officer. Today, female officers comprise over 20 per cent of the total Force strength.
One of those female officers is SSP Rose Kampire, who joined police in 2011. She is an engineer by profession and currently works as a specialist in aircraft maintenance.
“As a young person growing up, I felt the need to serve my country, by way of guarding against lwalessness, and it is against this background that I joined RNP,” she said.
“Our work as women in the Force is valued and we work with utmost professionalism in order to be exemplary to the younger generation.”
According to Superintendent Pelagie Dusabe, the Director of Gender Promotion Directorate (another senior female officer), RNP has a roadmap which resonates with the national gender policy that seeks equal representation of all women and men.
“The Gender Promotion Directorate was established to ensure capacity building of female officers, as well as to sensitise and encourage women to join Police. Every quarter of a year, we organise meetings with all gender focal points in all Police departments to assess gender promotion efforts and their impact,” Supt. Dusabe says.
On top of that, RNP holds the annual Police Women Convention, where all female officers gather and discuss achievements, challenges and how they can boost their contribution to national development.
Rwanda is among female police officers contributing countries to UN missions and currently female officers constitute 30 per cent of all RNP peacekeepers in seven missions around the world.
Some RNP female officers serve in high profile UN peacekeeping positions, such as Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Antoinette Umuraza, who was late last year appointed the chairperson of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) Women Network under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Others like Sergeant Felicite Mujawamariya were honoured by the United Nations for excellent service during their tour of duty in peacekeeping missions.
‘‘The commitment and participation of Rwandan women at all levels is a living proof of the strong visionary leadership under the Commander-in-Chief of security forces, President Paul Kagame, who has recognised our professional work in and outside the country and recently pledged to the UN an all-women Formed Police Unit of 140 officers, to be deployed in the near future to continue Rwanda’s peace building legacy,” Dusabe adds.
The Head of State made the promise last week during a UN Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping Operations in New York.
Supt. Dusabe urges more women to join the Force noting that “it’s a job like any other, where you need to serve with patriotism, discipline and zeal.”
“We have colleagues who are doctors, engineers, pilots and so we serve in different capacities that contribute to ensuring security and national development.”