It has been a long gradual uphill climb for the women in the Samoa Police Force in the 50 years since the first women were recruited.
Women make up 23 percent of the police force -141 sworn members and 28 unsworn members.
All the past Police Commissioners have been men and the current one is of the same gender too. The Police Force in Samoa like those in all countries is male dominant.
Women police officers in the past were able to achieve high ranks, which include inspectors.
Today there is a Deputy Police Commissioner.
The 36-year-old Papali’i Monalisa Tia’i Keti was appointed Deputy Commissioner last year.
It was not an easy rise up to the top for Papali’i. She admits that it is a job full of challenges and policing is difficult work. But challenges can be overcome she added.
“ It would be a lie to say that there are no challenges,” Papali’i told Newsline. “But these can be overcome if they are handled with patience and honesty and with faith.
“ A person should never allow challenges to overwhelm him or her.”
Papali’i said she had got this far because she took any task she was assigned to do.
“Whatever task, problem or challenge thrown at me I would try my best to handle it.
Papali’i was able to get this far because she continued to study for higher qualifications and work at the same time.
“To rise up in rank is a motivation to continue to study. It is important not to be complacent when you get to top positions. People should make use of study opportunities available. There are ways you can handle studying and working at the same time. This is the advice I always give to women police officers.”
Humility, honesty and faith Papali’i said are very important to her.
“ I have humble beginnings and I never forget that. I depend on the Lord for everything and to handle challenges. I think this can be said about the Samoans.
“ A big lesson for me is that I have to commit myself to my job. I must do everything with utmost honesty. This is more important than the age and the status of a person. It’s the performance that matters.”
Physical fitness is a very important part of the life of a police officer and this is something Papali’i continues to emphasise to her female colleagues.
“ I keep fit because that to me is a good approach to health. Physical fitness equals to mental fitness. I was a sporty person at high school and university. Police officers must be fit at all times in order to respond effectively to emergencies and other areas of police work.”
Papali’i is 36 years old, the youngest female to hold Deputy Commissioner in 50 years.
She is from the villages of Sapapali’i, Vailu’utai and Papauta and the mother of a family of three.