We are delighted to announce that Romina Caldera, Commander of the Police Station for Women and Families at Berriso, Argentina, has been awarded the 2019-2020 Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship. This fellowship is the premier award in the world recognising effective achievements in reconciliation. This years theme is ‘gender reconciliation’.
Romina played a key role in assisting Kerry Carrington’s ARC Discovery Research Team’s access to study Women’s Police Stations in Argentina. This research project demonstrated that Women’s Police Stations are a proven, practical and innovative response to responding to and preventing gender violence (Carrington et al, 2019). Women’s police stations are one of the most important entry points for accessing justice and enhancing the visibility of violence against women. The results of a study in Brazil demonstrate that the presence of women’s police stations leads to a 50 per cent drop in lethal partner violence for young women in urban areas, and a 17 per cent drop overall (Perova and Reynolds 2017, 193-194).
The ARC study found that women’s police stations in Argentina prevent gender violence through three main strategies:
- They prevent re-victimisation and reduce the number of high-risk cases that could otherwise end in more serious incidents or even femicide. By understanding domestic violence as cyclical, women’s police stations aim to break that cycle through targeted and strategic interventions with victims.
- By working in collaboratively with other agencies there is a reduction of duplication, the more effective use of scarce resources and the sharing of information crucial to preventing gender violence within their locality.
- Women’s police stations prevent gender violence from occurring in the first place through the wide-scale educative impact of their community engagement activities. The presence and proximity of women’s police stations not only increases reporting, but it sends a message to the local community that violence against women will not be tolerated, that it is a crime and that perpetrators will be held accountable.
More information about the ARC Research Project can be found here
Romina Caldera has worked for the Ministry of Security in Argentina for 20 years. For most of that time she has worked in Women’s Police Stations. In 1999 she first began her career at the Police Station for Women in La Plata (which was the first one established in Argentina in 1988).
In her role as Commander of a Women’s Police Station Romina Caldera has demonstrated outstanding sustained leadership to reduce gender violence; to transform the local community norms that sustain gender violence; to promote ethical gender behaviour, and to assist thousands of women and children to rebuild their lives free of violence. She has also assisted men to ‘unlearn violence’ and learn to respect women and children.
One example of Romina’s leadership has been her innovative approach to preventing gender violence through community activities. Every Christmas, the entire team from Berisso, led by Romina, gather donations of toys and lollies to distribute to the local community. In anticipating increases in gender violence over Christmas, they strategically distribute contact details of the women’s police station to hundreds of children and women by attaching this information to the wrapping of presents. They also host a Christmas party at the station and invite the children from the poorest areas of the local community as a way of familiarising women and children with their services. For many of the children who attend – this is their only Christmas present. Last year over 100 children attended the party.
Romina’s outstanding, courage, inspiration and service to the community has been recognised by a number of awards. Recently she was awarded the International Teresa of Calcutta Award for her tireless efforts (most of them voluntary) in delivering justice to women and children. She was also recognised as one of best women leaders in the world for her important work at the Women’s Police Station in Berisso as the Commander.
Strong leaders like Romina Caldera who have headed Women’s Police Stations in Argentina are in the unique position of being able to challenge local norms that underpin gender violence, to take action to deliver justice to victims and their children and to make the world a more peaceful place through their prevention of gender violence. Women’s police stations are engines for social change. This unique regulatory framework enhances the capacity of women’s police stations in policing gender violence, consistent with the United Nation goals of promoting peace, gender equality, empowering women, providing access to justice, and the elimination of violence against women (UN 2016).
Congratulations Romina from everyone at QUT Centre for Justice