“I want to leave a mark for women’s rights”
A Malian police officer shares her thoughts on tackling gender-based violence and fighting for women’s rights.
Djelika Diallo is the Director of the new One Stop Center in Mali’s capital Bamako. Managed by the National Police, this place offers survivors of gender-based violence medical, psychological and legal assistance. With 56 years, she is one of 7 female police commissioners in the country and exercises her vocation as a policewoman with a lot of enthusiasm, leadership and motivation.
“Working for the police, which was always considered a man’s job, was hard to accept for my parents. Since school my dream was to apply as a policewomen, but my parents did not want me to wear a uniform. Luckily, I got a chance in 1987, when all graduates had to fulfill their military and security service due to a new decision of the former President. This opportunity paved my way to finally exercise the job of my dreams. My parents had no more control and no other choice than to accept.
That is how I became a police officer at the rank of sergeant. With hard work, many trainings and determination despite my status as a woman, I was able to climb the ladder little by little to the position of Divisional Commissioner.
In the past, violence against women and girls was seen as normal acts in women’s lives. Nowadays people begin to understand that this is a criminal act and they talk about it.
Today, I work at the Social Center of the police now called “One Stop Center” where I manage the support for women and girls who come to us. Beside protection and legal assistance, we give them the chance to learn new skills and competencies such as tailoring to become economically independent. My aim is to transform our Center into a reference for women in Mali with the support of major authorities, especially the Minister of Security and Civil Protection. The fight against gender-based violence in Mali is progressing slowly but surely. In the past, violence against women and girls was seen as normal in women’s lives. Nowadays, people begin to understand that this is a criminal act and they talk about it. This is why I work hard to sensitize and raise awareness among the people in my country to change the lives of women and girls all over Mali — at their homes and in their communities.”
Sexual violence remains a daily phenomenon in Mali. More than 35 percent of Malian women become victims of sexual violence at least once in a life although real figures are much higher as they often cannot ask for help. The new One Stop Center is therefore an important institution of protection, assistance and access to justice for women, as examples from other countries such as Palestine and Rwanda successfully show. As part of a global United Nations project, the One Stop Center is integrated into the Global Focal Point Program, entitled “Fighting Mali’s Conflict Factors Through the Rule of Law” in partnership with the United Nations, UNDP and MINUSMA, working together to facilitate access to justice for women.
This project including the One Stop Center is generously funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.