Women in the security sector at the frontline of the COVID-19 response
20 April 2020
From patrolling checkpoints to answering emergency calls, women serving in security sector agencies continue to undertake vital work across Jordan alongside their male colleagues, supporting citizens and carefully applying critical mitigation measures against the spread of COVID-19. UN Women is working closely with the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF), the Civil Defence Force (CDF), the Public Security Directorate (PSD), and the Gendarmerie Force to provide gender-sensitive emergency response to local communities to protect them from the virus transmission while assisting vulnerable women in need.
"At first I was scared about the idea of dealing with COVID-19 cases, after hearing so much global news on its danger," recalls Corporal Nour Basem Obaid Al-Khaldi, from the West-Irbid CDF. "But I hold strong on my duty as a paramedic and the message of relief that my work embodies. I became the first woman at the Civil Defense to be deployed in Irbid to assist those infected with the virus," she adds. Corporate Al-Khaldi is one of the many women health professionals across Jordan during the COVID-19 emergency, working every day to ensure patients' patients' timely and safe transfer to authorized hospitals. In addition, to provide life-saving medical support, women paramedics are also the first-line responders to assist and reassure patients and their families, collecting critical information and data for the reporting process.
Managing over 100 cases within 24 hours, their work does not end when the patient reaches the hospital. "The response is very rapid to help infected cases or those suspected to be infected with the coronavirus using designated ambulances," explains Corporal Hanadi Al-Rawashdeh from the CDF – West Irbid Operations and Support Department. "Once the case is safely delivered to the hospital, we as paramedics are transferred in the isolation room for sterilization. The ambulance and equipment used are sterilized as well. Then we return to the Directorate to document the cases".
Women represent almost 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally, and around 30% of female paramedics from the CDF have been directly deployed as first responders to COVID-19 cases while raising awareness on the pandemic among other women in the community.
"When duty calls, I never think twice. And even when the danger is high, a health professional and as a citizen, it is my responsibility to serve my country as my first priority" EMT Entithar Abadi, Warrant Officer at CDF.
Within the framework of Jordan’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (JONAP), UN Women is also coordinating with JAF and PSD to integrate gender aspects into the Government’s multidisciplinary management approach to the COVID-19 response. "Considering the challenging circumstances faced by our beloved country, it is our responsibility as security officers to ensure compliance with public health and safety guidelines, leveraging all protective tools and measures" affirms Second Lieutenant, Amal Sharai Al-Bayadah, Administration Officer at PSD.
Particular attention is devoted to assisting survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) during this period of movement restrictions, whose prevalence has been exacerbated as a consequence of social distancing, tension, stress and anxiety as a result of COVID-19 outbreak. Towards this end, the PSD Women’s Police Directorate has deployed additional female officers in all governorates to support the police in monitoring and responding to such cases. In an effort to meet immediate needs, the Family Protection Department (FPD) has also established crisis teams, including female officers who provide an immediate response to GBV and domestic violence cases 24/7.
With the generous support of the Governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom, UN Women provided FPS with 100 recovery bags to be distributed to GBV survivors, including cloths, and hygienic supplies, to address their immediate needs in safe centers or shelters.
As first responders to COVID-19 management, Jordanian women serving in all security sector agencies are providing invaluable contributions to the safety of citizens and communities. UN Women and the Jordanian National Commission for Women continue to promote their stories and testimonials throughout such challenging circumstances in contribution to Jordan’s efforts to advance the national Women, Peace and Security agenda.