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:
Women’s Police Stations in Latin America: An Entry Point for Stopping Violence and Gaining Access to Justice (Jubb, Camacho, D’Angelo, Hernández, Macassi León, Meléndez López, Molina, Pasinato, Redrobán, Simas de Souza, and Yáñez De la Borda, 2010), which compares women's police stations across four countries. See also the case study on Women’s Police Stations.
Comprehensive Responses to Gender-Based Violence in Low Resource Settings (Population Council, 2010), which summarizes key lessons from the implementation of multisectoral (health, criminal justice, psychosocial services) programmes in six countries within sub-Saharan Africa.
Challenges and Opportunities for improved Monitoring and Evaluation of Security Sector Reform Programmes (Rynn, S., and Hiscock, D. for Saferworld, 2009), based on five country case studies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Uganda) and five surveys (European Union; United Nations; and governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States). The research finds that there is very little adequate monitoring or evaluation of security sector reform processes, although it is not focused specifically on violence against women and girls.
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:
Evaluation of the Family Response Unit District 10 Police Station Kabul (Murray T. for Canadian International Development Agency, 2006; and Police-Building in Afghanistan: A Case Study of Civil Security Reform (Murray, 2007)
The Zambian Ministry of Home Affairs (Police Service), Ministry of Health and Population Council research study to improve services for survivors of gender-based violence, which highlighted the positive impacts of police provision of emergency contraception, including strengthening multisectoral collaboration and responses.
Women Building Peace and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict-Affected Contexts: A Review of Community-Based Approaches (UNIFEM, 2007) review of the DFID-funded UNIFEM programme.
The 1998 New Workplace for Women Project by the Albuquerque Police Department in collaboration with the Institute for Women Trades, Technology and Science, which notes key practices for improving the recruitment, retention and advancement of female police.
Other related literature includes:
Gender assessments of security sector reform processes, particularly for post-conflict countries, which cover sector responses to violence against women. For example, see assessments from Sierra Leone and Liberia (DCAF-WIPSEN, 2008) and Burundi (International Alert, 2008).
Public perceptions surveys with data on attitudes towards violence against women and security responses. For example, Palestinian Women and Security: Why Palestinian Women Do Not Feel Secure (DCAF, 2010); National Community Attitudes Survey – Australian attitudes to violence against women (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2010) and Personal Safety Survey – Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006).
Country-specific reports on the subject, for example, ACCP Country Report- Belize: Strengthening State Accountability in Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assaults (A. Moore, 2009); and Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme - Kiribati Report (D. Lievore and P. Fairbairn-Dunlop, 2007).
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.