Police in New Zealand want to encourage Muslim women to join the security forces. In addition to the classic uniforms, candidates can now also choose a uniform with matching headscarf. “We want to build an inclusive force that reflects our diverse society,” said a spokesperson.
Zeena Ali is the first woman to wear the uniform. Ali was born in Fiji and moved to New Zealand as a child. “It feels great that the hijab is part of my uniform, I was also involved in the design phase of it,” the official Instagram page of the New Zealand police reads.
“The effect of this uniform means that women who previously might never have considered a career in the police force can now do so,” says Ali. ‘It is fantastic that the police take my religion and culture into account.’ Ali was allowed to swim with long sleeves during her training and was fed halal meals. “It is fantastic that the police put so much effort into developing a headscarf that not only meets health and safety requirements, but also takes my personal needs into account,” says Ali.
Development of the new uniform began in 2018, after several police officers visited secondary schools. New Zealand is not the first country to integrate the headscarf into official uniforms. In the United Kingdom, such a uniform was already developed in 2006 for the London police, the Metropolitan Police. Police in Scotland followed in 2016. In 2004 Maha Sukkar already wore a headscarf with her uniform for the police forces of the state of Victoria in Australia.