A group of 92 female police officers in Sri Lanka have raised concerns about alleged discrimination in promotion practices, claiming that male officers are consistently favored over their female counterparts. The allegations came to light during a recent hearing of a Parliament Select Committee chaired by MP (Dr.) (Mrs.) Sudarshini Fernandopulle.
The female police officers, all of whom are Chief Inspectors with over 26 years of service, expressed frustration over their lack of advancement despite their years of dedicated service. They noted that while the recruitment and salary scales for male and female officers are identical, female officers are consistently overlooked for promotions when compared to their less senior male counterparts.
The Parliament committee investigating the matter was informed that the method of recruitment and training for both male and female police officers is standardized and free of discrimination. However, the female officers’ grievances centered on the promotion process, alleging that their qualifications and experience are often disregarded in favor of male candidates with shorter tenures.
In response to the grievances, officials from the Ministry of Public Security stated that proposals to create new vacancies have been submitted to the Department of Management Services. However, the female police officers expressed skepticism over these assurances, emphasizing the need for immediate action to address the existing disparity in promotion opportunities.
In a significant recommendation, the Committee Chair called upon the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security to reserve 15% of all vacancies for female police officers, reflecting their current representation within the force. This move aims to ensure that female officers have a fair chance to progress within the ranks and contribute their expertise to the Sri Lanka Police Force.
While the allegations of discrimination have raised concerns about gender equality within the Sri Lanka Police Force, it’s important to acknowledge the contributions of female officers who have demonstrated exceptional bravery and dedication to their service. In 2019, two female police officers were awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Gallantry for their heroic actions in rescuing individuals from a burning building.