Diana Achard joined the Myanmar Police Force (MPF) in 1984. After 30 years, she would rise to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, one of the highest-ranking women in the MPF. In the beginning, she was almost immediately assigned to the Taunggyi Anti-Narcotic Task Force as a field operation officer.
“Getting reliable information was crucial for anti-narcotic work. We had lots of success because informants tend to trust women much more than men,” Diana says.
In 1994, she was transferred to the Tachileik anti-narcotics team in the Golden Triangle, Southeast Asia’s main drug-producing area. The position brought with it several challenges, especially because there were many Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) in the area.
In time, she was promoted to Captain and assigned to the Narcotics Financial Investigation Team (FIT). There, she collaborated with drug control agencies from other countries like Australia, the United States, China, and Thailand to share information and conduct large, joint operations.
In 2017, she reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and began working with the Law Enforcement Division in Nay Pyi Taw (under the Division of Transnational Crime). She now worked with a range of international organisations from all over the world.
She attributes some of her success to being a woman in the police. “In general, I’d say that women are more persistent in their work. They are more meticulous and excellent at negotiation and mediation,” she says.
Diana wasn’t the only woman enjoying success within the MPF. When she began, only 2% of the police were women. Today, that number has increased five-fold to 10%. Now more and more women are being given field operations roles. Whereas once female police did only administrative duties, many now work in mediation, negotiation, and intelligence gathering like Diana did.
This is not only a change for women in the MPF, but it is also changing the MPF itself. As female officers are given more responsibility, the MPF is able to serve Myanmar’s communities better through a more well-rounded approach. For example, many township stations are now beginning to assign female police to Investigation Officer roles. As well as improving townships’ ability to handle investigations, this will specifically improve the level of service for female victims of crime.
Now retired, Diana works as the senior national advisor on community policing with MYPOL. Her work helps the project better understand how to work with the MPF and supports police working with the community. Although she is no longer with the MPF, she believes that women in the police will continue to have more opportunities, especially to work in non-traditional police assignments. As the MPF continues to invest in its female officers by building up their skills through a variety of trainings like those with MYPOL, it’s clear that female officers are determined to go far within the MPF.