One Voice with Equal Pace: Twenty Years of the Gender Equality Network
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The end of September marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the South Wales Female Police Association (FPA), which today we know as the South Wales Police Gender Equality Network (GEN).
The FPA was formed under the motto ‘Una Voce, Pari Passu’, which translates as ‘One Voice with Equal Pace’. The motto summarised the aims of the association which were to provide a positive working environment for female officers and staff, and to identify, address, and eliminate discrimination aimed towards women.
By the end of the 2000s, several breakthroughs were made which bolstered gender equality and increased female representation in specialist departments across the force. One of the major breakthroughs came in 2008, when the FPA successfully worked with the force uniform stores to identify and produce the most comfortable clothing available for pregnant officers.
Progress made by the association continued in the 2010s, with great leaps being taken to ensure national and international relations were established with International Association of Women Police (IAWP) and British Association of Women Police (BAWP). These relationships have grown from strength to strength, with many female officers from south Wales serving as mentors to officers abroad.
In 2016 the FPA was re-branded and re-structured to become the Gender Equality Network. During the re-branding process, membership was extended to male colleagues in alignment with HeForShe: the UN-led global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential. Today, male members of the network play a part in encouraging greater sponsorship of women and supporting female recruitment in hard-to-reach roles within the organisation.
Over its twenty-year history, the network has worked tirelessly to support the development and nurture the potential of female officers and staff. It also continues to prioritise the health and wellbeing of female colleagues, and actively explores opportunities for greater support around maternity, menopause, and pre and post-natal care. In recent years, this support has been extended to male colleagues to share the role of primary care and promote a work life balance.
Reflecting on the anniversary, Chief Superintendent and Head of Corporate Services, Joanna Maal, said:
“I’ve seen how the Female Police Association has grown and developed into the current Gender Equality Network which really emphasises inclusivity and support for all colleagues regardless of role, rank, or gender. "The GEN has been involved in some terrific work to support and encourage development for officers and staff in some really creative ways and also invests a huge amount of time and devotion to tackling some particularly important issues such as sexual harassment and professional development. "Amazingly, the network continues to evolve through the expertise and energy of those who are involved and invested in its purpose, and any member of staff or officer who are interested in being instrumental in delivering the outstanding work and contribution the Network bring would be more than welcome to be involved.”
In this short video, GEN members past and present discuss their roles throughout the history of the network and some of its ongoing priorities: