Women police officers in New Zealand will now be able to wear a hijab as part of their official uniform, BBC reported on Wednesday.
The move is aimed at encouraging more Muslim women to join the force and to create an “inclusive” service reflecting the country’s “diverse community”, said a spokesperson.
According to BBC, a new recruit, Constable Zeena Ali will become the first police officer to wear a hijab with her uniform.
Besides New Zealand, London’s Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland also offer the option of wearing the head covering.
In the UK, the hijab was approved in 2006 and in Scotland ten years later, in 2016. Meanwhile, in Australia, Victoria Police’s officer, Maha Sukkar, wore it in 2004.
BBC cited New Zealand Police as saying that the process to include the hijab began in 2018, after a request came in from police staff visiting secondary schools.
Constable Ali was the first to make the request and was even included in the development process.
Ali was born in Fiji but moved to New Zealand in her childhood. Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, she said that she wanted to join the police force following the terror attack in Christchurch.
“I realised more Muslim women were needed in the police, to go and support people,” she told the national daily.
“It feels great to be able to go out and show the New Zealand Police hijab as part of my uniform,” she added. “I think that seeing it, more Muslim women will want to join as well.”