12 March 2020
Category : Entrevista
We interviewed Diana Achard, Senior Advisor to the Community Police in the Myanmar Police Reform Support Project (MYPOL)Diana Achard, Senior Advisor to the Community Police at MYPOL
Diana Achard is one of the three highest-ranking women in the Myanmar Police and works on the Myanmar Police Reform Support project. The project is managed by the FIIAPP and funded by the European Union.
Achard joined the police academy in 1984 and was assigned to the Taunggy police force in 1985, before being transferred to narcotics. There, Achard managed domestic and administrative work, but she quickly became an undercover agent.
In 1994, she was transferred to southern Shan, to an area known as the ‘golden triangle’ due to drug trafficking. During this stage, she was named leader of the narcotics team for southern Shan.
In 2008, she was promoted to captain based on her excellent record and major drug seizures under her command. This was the year when she joined the Yangon Financial and Narcotics Investigation Team (NTI). At the NTI she collaborated with all the bilateral agencies (Australian, ASEAN, India), sharing information and participating in major operations.
By 2012, Achard had been promoted based on an impressive track record of seizures and she was transferred to the International Relations Division within the Narcotic Drugs Division.
In 2017, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was transferred to the Transnational Crime Division (DTOC, based in Napyitaw), a unit with 110 sub-departments, including narcotics, cybercrime, human trafficking, environmental crime and part of the criminal investigation department.
Achard represented the Myanmar Police Forces (MPF) and Myanmar in all narcotics-related matters.
What was it like being a woman in the beginning?
Almost from the beginning I was assigned to undercover duties and handling information and confidants since there were only two women in the unit. When I left the MPF in 2018, there were twelve women in the Transnational Crime Division (DTOC), but they were mainly assigned to administrative and secretarial duties.
Have you faced challenges and obstacles to achieve recognition for your work?
It is difficult for any police officer to get a promotion, but it is particularly difficult for female officers. I was a lieutenant for seven years because I am a woman despite being responsible for major drug seizures.
What can women contribute to the MPF?
Regarding narcotics, I believe that obtaining reliable information is crucial, and civilians and informants trust women far more than they do men. What’s more, it used to be unusual to find women in undercover operations, so, we had an additional advantage. These days, it is far more common. In general, I would say that women are more persistent workers, are more meticulous and excellent at negotiation and mediation.
How is the MPF advancing in terms of gender integration in the police service?
Well, when I started in ’85 there were 2.2% women in the police force and there are now 9.6%. Little by little, women are getting recognition for their comparative advantages and skills.
Female investigators have now been appointed in most Yangon districts as focal points for crimes involving women and children. There are also many women in charge of mediation, negotiation, and intelligence gathering.
Generally speaking, I would say that women are better educated and better equipped, since the entry requirements are more rigorous (at least a two-year degree is required). On the other hand, women in the police also have more opportunities to integrate non-traditional police branches.
What is the main barrier for women in the MPF?
Access to dominant roles; no matter how capable you are, this is still dominated by men.
How do you see the future of women in the MPF?
Given that women have to choose between having a married life or the MPF, I doubt that the situation will progress in the short term. However, there may be some hope for the future. Although it is a slow process, a new generation of Myanmar women is determined to move up.
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