The PSNI has defended an initiative for International Women's Day (IWD) which asked female officers to nominate a male colleague who had supported them in their career.
The force received criticism after posting on social media about the initiative, with critics saying it was wrong to focus on male achievements on a day intended to be a celebration of women.
The tweet said: "Preparations underway for our celebration for #IWD2020. This year's theme is #EachForEqual. Female colleagues nominated male colleagues who have supported them during their career."
More than 400 members of the public commented under the post.
Following the criticism the PSNI released a statement on the "public commentary" around the initiative.
Chief Superintendent Emma Bond, Chair of the PSNI's Women in Policing Association said: "As part of our plans for this year's International Women's Day (IWD) event, our Association took the IWD universal theme of Each For Equal and invited our members to nominate male colleagues who have supported them in achieving gender parity."
Message from Chair of PSNIâs Women in Policing Association (WPA), Chief Superintendent Emma Bond, in light of public commentary about our International Womenâs Day event.— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) March 7, 2020
You can also read Chief Superintendent Bondâs statement here: https://t.co/gkO7u6ws5H pic.twitter.com/HMVrIap4qd
CS Bond added that in previous years the PSNI had used IWD to promote the "positive contribution" of women within the force.
"Recognising that gender equality is not a female-only issue, that it is everyone's responsibility, in line with this year's theme we took the decision to recognise male colleagues who have an important part to play," she added.
"It is vitally important that our male colleagues play their part in empowering, supporting and being positive advocates for their female colleagues.
Preparations underway for our celebration for #IWD2020. This yearâs theme is #EachForEqual. Female colleagues nominated male colleagues who have supported them during their career. pic.twitter.com/BCoFxkEjPS— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) March 6, 2020
Today's event was seen as providing an opportunity for the women in Policing Association to recognise those who do that already."
The Irish News reports that police officers received an email in the run-up to this weekend's celebrations saying that it was "important to take some time to recognise the male colleagues who have reached out, stood up and spoken up to suppor you as woman in policing".
It added: "Do you have a male coleague who reached out when needed, offered you the confidence or support to take a different step, go for a new job, help you through a difficult time, or recognise your success?"