International Women’s Day

8th March 2021

The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Eleri Thomas, blogs about this year’s International Women’s Day.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’.

I am lucky to have had some fantastic opportunities in my life but it is the challenges presented by these opportunities that have been instrumental in shaping both me personally and my career.

Growing up, I was surrounded by family, friends, teachers and sports coaches, all of whom provided me with support, opportunities and encouraged me to challenge myself. It is through this type of inspiration that I think women in leadership roles can make the biggest difference; not just here in Gwent Police, but across society.

As a student, I spent time volunteering in Swaziland during apartheid in South Africa. Working within communities that were severely deprived and segregated along racial lines was a different kind of challenge and awoke something that has remained with me ever since. It instilled an inherent desire to help people achieve to the best of their ability, regardless of their sex, gender identity, race, disability, religion or upbringing.

I am now in a unique position as the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner to help ensure that the women who serve Gwent as police officers, staff or volunteers do not experience any discrimination. I do this by helping to ensure that they have equal opportunities, equal pay and that any barriers to women succeeding in the work place are broken down.

Gwent Police has embraced an equalities culture and there are now more female officers on the front-line than ever before, including a female Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable. While there is still work to be done, I am confident that the drive and desire for equality permeates at all levels of the organisation.

Our aim is to build a workforce that reflects the communities we serve, and our duties to promote equality extend to those communities. We are in a position to make things happen and create opportunities that allow others, and women in particular, to have their eyes opened to new possibilities, take part in new challenges, and to flourish to the best of their ability.

The Mini Police and Cadets schemes are perfect examples of how we are creating these opportunities for children in some of our most disadvantaged communities here in Gwent. I hope that they are inspired by the policing family to make a difference in their communities and I am delighted to see them going from strength to strength.

I would like to celebrate the contribution women have made to policing here in Gwent as officers, police staff and as volunteers, particularly during the pandemic where many have been putting themselves and their families at risk by serving on the front line every day. You are all a credit to your profession and the communities that you serve.