Officer Sabin Macastena picks up Officer Marigona Beadini in the police transport van to take her to the Special Operation Police base near Prishtina, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. Beadini gets picked up almost everyday to go to the base, at an always changing schedule.

In 2012, Marigona Beadini, after a life of professional boxing and karate, joined the now 14% of women who make up the Kosovo police force. Beadini grew up in Prishtina, and after 18 years of martial arts and boxing she entered the police academy in Kosovo. After the academy, Marigona fulfilled the requirements by spending two years as a patrol officer before she applied to the Special Operations Unit where she is currently working for the past 3 years. Joining the Special Operations Unit was her “goal from the beginning” and the reason that she joined the police force. Marigona’s work follows an unpredictable schedule—one where getting the day’s schedule that very morning is normal. Most days mean going to base for 8- or 9-hour shifts and filling the time with training, and briefings, and spending time with her teammates. But any downtime can be interrupted on a moment’s notice when a call comes in and they must suit up and head into the field. The reason she wanted to join the Special Operations Unit is partially because of the excitement and danger, but also she wants to “do things that not many other people do, and to do them well.”
Being a woman in a stereotypically male profession often comes with challenges and obstacles. But for Marigona, joining the Special Operations Unit, where she is only one of ten women, was a matter of willpower. In her view, “If you give maximum effort you will see results regardless if you are a man or a woman.” She believes the reason that there is a lack of females in the Kosovo police force is more of a physical and cultural problem than one involving the structure of the police force. While being a police officer isn’t a man’s job anymore, Marigona believes that most women in Kosovo still don’t want to be police officers. While this still might be a cultural issue, in Marigona’s experience her unit has been more than welcoming to her as a female. She is surrounded by people who show her respect and treat her as an equal part of the team. She told me, “All the work that we do, we need to be in contact with each other. It’s teamwork… this makes us bond.”
While being a professional athlete helped her adapt to the competitive environment, she believes that once you prove that you are serious about your job, being a woman in the Special Operations Unit is not a handicap. While Marigona Beadini thinks it would be a positive change to have more women in the police force, she thinks it is more important to have, “Those who know how to do the job and love their job; not to just fill out a number.”

Officers Sabin Macastena, left, Edmond Jakupi, center, and Marigona Beadini, right, take a moment to drink coffee before heading to the Special Operations base, near Prishtina, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. Sitting at the coffee shop the three officers debate about conflict strategy.

Officer Marigona Beadini stands and talks to some of her colleagues in front of their room at the Special Operations base Vrella, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. Beadini​​​​​​​ has a separate room at the other side of the hallway, that she occasionally shares with the other three women in the Prishtina division of the Special Operation's unit.

Officer Marigona Beadini usually starts her ​​​​​​​days training with a run before continuing to work out in the gym at the Special Operations base in Vrella, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. Beadini believes that "If you have the willpower to do something, no-one can stop you"

Officer Marigona Beadini trains during her shift at the Special Operations base Vrella, Kosovo on July 20, 2017. Before joining the police force Beadini spent 18 years doing karate and boxing, winning many championships.

Officer Marigona Beadini sits alone watching T.V. while waiting for a call at the Special Operations base in Vrella, Kosovo on July 20, 2017. Even while her entire shift is surrounded by the men in her unit, Beadini will find moments of quite to spend time alone. She will watch T.V., read a book, and on nice nights sit outside looking over the city.

Officer Marigona Beadini sits at a roadside restaurant with four of her fellow officers, (left to right) Bardhyl Bylukbashi, Nexhmedin Vllasaliu, Sabin Macastena, Edmond Jakupi, and restaurant employee, center right, near Prishtina, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. "We are a family... you work and train with them, you have to have faith in ​​​​​​​them" says Beadini. 

Getting ready to leave for the night, Officer Marigona Beadini puts her uniform back on, at the Special Operations base in Vrella, Kosovo on July 23, 2017. Officers are supposed to be in uniform while on shift and off of ​​​​​​​base.

Officer Marigona Beadini departs the Special Operations base as the night winds down to run a quick errand in Vrella, Kosovo on July 20, 2017. "One of the things that I like most about this job, it is a humanitarian job, and even though it is dangerous, I help people and am close to the people" says Marigona (translated from Albanian)

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