Officers George and Penitisi from Tuvalu Police Force have completed the four-month basic recruit’s course at the Fiji Police Academy (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

Police officers from neighboring Pacific island country Tuvalu, Alamai George and Luni Penitisi, were among 203 police recruits who took part in the passing-out parade at the Fiji Police Academy in Suva, on the completion of the four-month basic recruits’ course conducted at the Fiji Police Academy.

Operating from the Crime Branch of the Tuvalu Police Force, Officer George works as a Domestic Violence and Community Policing Officer and Officer Penitisi works in the Prosecution Unit.

They were not on the initial list from the Tuvalu Police Force for the regional recruits training at the Fiji Police Academy.

The two women officers have been recruits for six years, and over the years, have watched male recruits with only one to two years’ experience undertake basic recruits training in Fiji. The formal qualification gained through the completion of the basic recruits’ course is a requisite for their career promotion in the Police.

This time, Officer George and Officer Penitisi were determined. They argued that women officers needed to undergo training in order to progress in their professional development and the basic recruits’ course is a prerequisite step on that journey.

“We asked why no women officers were included and we were told that it was due to a period of vigilance for peaceful election in Fiji,” said Officer Penitisi. “They also asked us if we could do all the training even if it involved additional security measures. We replied: we are in the police, of course we can!”

Having convinced their superiors that women could and should receive the training, Officer George and Officer Penitisi became the first women recruits from Tuvalu to undergo the basic recruits’ course at the Fiji Police Academy in over 10 years.

Although no comprehensive global data exists on women’s presence in public administration, in the 2014 Global Report on gender equality in public administration, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which synthesized the findings of 13 in-depth country case studies, the numbers show that globally, despite the diversity of countries studied, women remain underrepresented overall in decision-making levels of public administration. 

There are 120 personnel working in the area of peace and security in Tuvalu, including those in police, corrections, immigration and maritime. Among them only eight are women.

52 women police officers among 203 police recruits took part in the passing-out parade at the Fiji Police Academy in Suva. Officer Luni Penitisi from Tuvalu Police Force (centre) was among them. (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

Officer George received the Commandant’s Award of ‘Most Improved Recruit’ (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

While undergoing training at the Fiji Police Academy, the regional recruits (52 women and 151 men – two women and four men from Tuvalu), were introduced to Fiji’s Early Access to Justice initiatives: The First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews. This was the second time this training was provided to new recruits at the Academy, a programme supported by the British High Commission and UNDP.

The training arises as a result of the ‘pilot’ of the First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews, which commenced in November 2016 at the Central Police Station and the Criminal Investigations Division in Suva, Fiji and has been ongoing since. 

“We have learned technical skills and knowledge. The teaching and learning have been outstanding. Most importantly, we are delighted to take these lessons back to Tuvalu where we will share lessons learned with others and we will support other women recruits in Tuvalu get this opportunity,” said Officer George.

As a result of her hard work throughout the course, Officer George received the Commandant’s Award of ‘Most Improved Recruit’.

Tuvalu Commissioner of Police Luka Falefou, who officiated at the passing-out parade, said “diversity, inclusiveness and gender equality must be embraced in the Police, reflecting the values of our society.”

“It is important to develop the intellectual capacity of recruits to enable them to manage sophisticated police operations. This is a profession that both women and men can equally contribute to. Individuals’ talents, skills and knowledge, based on diverse backgrounds and experiences, are necessary for effective and sensitive policing,” he said.

With their dedication and determination to achieve higher standards, experience and confidence gained through dealing with professional challenges, women police officers in the Pacific are breaking through the glass ceiling and paving the way for young women recruits.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Andrew Harrington, Programme Manager, Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, tel: +679 331-2500; email:

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