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What is known to date about working with the police and military (i.e. the evidence base)?

  • The evidence base on effectively engaging police, military and security institutions broadly to address violence against women and girls is currently very limited. The majority of the evidence available relates to police responses to violence against women, and there is a considerable gap with respect to large-scale evaluations, research, comparative studies or meta-analyses. Illustrative large-scale studies available in this field, include:

  • The limited evidence base of evaluations and studies on security sector, police and defense reform programmes reflects the relatively recent attention  given to gender issues and violence against women within security sector programming and policies (particularly in the ten years following UN Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000). Although discussions on the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to the security sector in development contexts were ongoing from the early 1990s, the term ‘security sector reform’ was first introduced in 1998 by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development (Sedra, 2010).

  • Through UN Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions that address conflict and post-conflict situations (1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010)), security institutions are obligated to be more responsive to issues of violence against women. These resolutions have also encouraged a number of organizations to work more closely on women’s security issues (e.g. the Initiative for Inclusive Security, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), which began work in 2003 to support the integration of gender issues in security institutions and sector reform processes, and the Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), set up in 2006 to promote women's strategic participation and leadership on the subject in Africa). See also the Women Peace Portal for a list of organizations working on peace and security issues.

  • Where research and evaluations exist, they are often based on small-scale interventions or specific programmes. Some examples include:

  • Other related literature includes:

  • While the research and surveys are important for informing or monitoring specific programmes, they are not necessarily linked to specific interventions or strategies; do not frequently assess the outcomes of specific strategies or approaches to working with the sector; and are often based on a small sample size, which is not representative of the broader population or context. These factors, among others, limit the generation of lessons learned and promising practices for application to broader contexts.

  • Geographically, there is greater information on security sector experiences addressing violence against women and girls from countries that have had more comprehensive sector reform programmes (e.g. South Africa and Uganda) and from the global north (e.g. Canada, the United Kingdom and United States). There is limited information from countries which have recently emerged from conflict or are still engaged in protracted conflict and have not yet begun to fully institutionalize response and protection procedures or protocols around violence against women

  • Knowledge on promising policy and operational practices and lessons learned is also limited in countries where information about the sector is not available to the public.

  • Despite the limited evaluated evidence of strategies and approaches, there is a growing number of programming tools (guides, manuals, curricula, etc.) available for working with the security sector, particularly for training initiatives and largely drawing upon experiences of countries in the Global North or from post-conflict settings.

  • There are also a substantial number of practical guidelines for security sector reform which have been based on findings and recommendations of experts and practitioners engaged in implementing reform programmes in the field, including toolkits for the integration of gender issues within the process.