Would China? Australia’s chance to back women police in the Pacific

Would China? Australia’s chance to back women police in the Pacific

Lowy Institute

China’s pursuit of a Pacific-wide deal with island nations covering policing, security and data communications cooperation leaves the new Labor government in Australia facing a challenge to be the security “partner of choice” in the region. While the full details of these proposed agreements are not yet known, China is unlikely to include programs of work to empower women or increase women’s participation in law enforcement given the limitations on women in these roles in China itself. There is an opportunity for women to develop different skill sets relating to digitalisation and new technologies to enable career pathways. Women are under-represented in law enforcement agencies across the region, and especially so in maritime law enforcement. Women face barriers to accessing this field as a career due to perceptions that working at-sea is not suitable for women, a lack of gender-sensitive infrastructure, and social and cultural norms which shape expectations of gendered behaviour and roles, among others. These influences typically coalesce to constrain women’s participation to gendered roles, for example, office-based or administrative roles.

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