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Policies and measures to promote the advancement of women in security institutions

(Adapted from Denham, 2008)

  • Review job assessment standards and promotion criteria for discrimination and provide incentives and affirmative action measures, where appropriate, to ensure the promotion of women to the higher echelons in the sector and to serve as role models and to strengthen the commitment of the leadership to eliminate violence against women. This is particularly important to achieve a critical mass of women in senior security roles (e.g. Minister of Defense, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Security).

Snapshot of countries with women in senior security sector roles

Country

Portfolio

Dates

South Africa

Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs

2009-

Nepal

Minister of Defense

2009-

Gabon

Minister of Defense

2009-2011

United States

Secretary of Homeland Security

2009 -

Palau

Minister of Domestic Affairs

2009-2010

Bangladesh

Minister of Home Affairs

2009-

Latvia

Minister of Interior

2009-2010

Turks and Caicos Islands

Minister of Home Affairs and Public Security

2009-

Denmark

Minister of Interior

2009-2010

South Africa

Minister of Home Affairs

2009 -

Belgium

Minister of Interior

2009-

Peru

Minister of Interior

2009-

Madagascar

Minister of Interior

2009-2011

Guinea Bissau

Minister of Interior

2009 -

Norway

Minister of Defense

2010-

Denmark

Minister of Defense

2010-

Botswana

Acting Minister of Defense and Security

2010 -

Panama

Minister of Interior

2010 -

Ecuador

Coordinating Minister of Police

2010 -

Switzerland

Federal Counsellor of Police

2010-

United Kingdom

Secretary of State of the Home Department

2010 -

Zimbabwe

Co-Minister of Home Affairs

2010 -

Argentina

Minister of Security

2010-

Cape Verde

Minister of Internal Administration

2011-

Excerpt from: Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership.

  • Develop objective and non-discriminatory promotion criteria that include rewards for problem solving, promoting multisectoral collaboration and cooperation, and for community-based personnel, working with community members, de-escalating violent situations, and providing survivors of violence referrals to health, legal and social services. For example, an award system may be established at the national or institutional level to recognize officers/departments making specific contributions or achieving targets in relation to their work on violence against women. Media attention and support of other partners may also be engaged to encourage participation in such activities.

  • Establish clear, transparent and objective job assessment standards and performance-based assessment reviews and appointments, based on revised job descriptions and skill requirements.

  • Use independent review boards and external interviewers to minimize internal biases or promotions through nepotism or social networks.

  • Ensure women have access to educational and job training opportunities for career advancement. For example, the Ugandan 1325/1820 National Action Plan requires that training programmes for members of the armed forces provide specific training in leadership and other skills for women (Bastick and de Torres, 2010).

  • Ensure promotion panels do not view positions typically held by female officers as less ‘valuable’ or penalize part-time/flexible time workers when considering promotions (e.g. administrative positions, personnel focused on domestic violence or sexual assault, work with juveniles, etc.). This can be achieved through gender awareness training for members of the promotion board.

  • Establish a mentoring system for female officers where senior female personnel are officially assigned as mentors to more junior female officers and supported to help junior personnel develop their careers and make decisions related to their professional growth.

  • Encourage high-ranking female officers to speak to women’s police/military associations regarding the importance of applying for promotions. For example, the Canadian Forces Leadership Institute convenes an annual symposium on Women Leading in Defense, where high-ranking offices speak, demonstrating institutional support for women’s advancement (Bastick and Torres, 2010).

  • Continuously monitor and publish data on the proportion of women in senior ranks. Oversight bodies (particularly Parliaments) can play a key role by requesting information and sex-disaggregated data on the composition of security institutions and the ranks of women.

  • Conduct independent research into women in the police and armed forces, including through surveys of qualified female officers to gain insight into why women are applying/ failing to apply for promotions. Research should also examine progress with gender mainstreaming and the reasons why women drop out from police and military academies and career positions within the sector.

 

Promising practice: Increasing the representation and support for women in the armed forces of Hungary

Hungary successfully raised the participation of women in its armed forces from 4.3% in 2005 to 17.56% in 2006, involving various strategies to increase recruitment, retention and deployment of women:

  • The 1996 Military Service Law (in Hungarian) that upholds the equal rights of men and women and guarantees non-discriminatory promotion based on professional skill, experience, performance and service time.

  • An Equal Opportunity Team and Equal Opportunity Plan (in Hungarian) created within human resources.

  • A Committee on Women of the Hungarian Defence Forces, established in 2003 to ensure equal opportunities for men and women. The Committee conducts research and holds meetings with female officers to gather experiences and analyze of the status of gender equality, and propose recommendations for change.

  • A network of women’s focal points established at unit level.

  • Steps to improve resting and hygienic conditions in the units.

Source: Hendricks, C. and L. Hutton, (2008) ‘Defence Reform and Gender – Tool 3, Gender & Security Sector Reform Toolkit, Eds. Megan Bastick and Kristin Valasek, Geneva: DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN-INSTRAW.

 

Key Tools:

Guidelines for Gender Sensitive Policing with Particular Focus on Recruitment, Selection and Professional Development of Women in Police Services (Balon, B., Djurović, D., Savić, I. for The Women Police Officers Network in South East Europe with the support of UNDP/SEESAC, 2012). These Guidelines, for policy-makers and others working with the security sector, provide a set of simple and low cost measures, aiming to help police services recruit and retain more qualified women and advance gender equality, based on the context in South East Europe. The Guidelines are available in Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Macedonian, Moldovan, and Serbian.

Police Reform and Gender – Tool 2, Gender and SSR Toolkit (Denham, 2008). This tool provides guidance for planning and designing a practical introduction to gender issues for security sector reform practitioners and policy-makers, the Toolkit includes 13 Tools and Practice Notes. Tool 2 focuses on the importance of strengthening the ability of the police to understand and address the different security needs of the entire population (including men, women, boys and girls) and creating non-discriminatory and representative police institutions. The tool is intended for use by various actors working on police reform including: police officers and recruitment staff, government officials, international and regional organizations, civil society organizations and parliamentarians and researchers. Available in English.

DPKO/DFS Guidelines for Integrating Gender Perspectives into the Work of the United Nations Police in Peacekeeping Missions (DPKO/DFS, 2008). These guidelines are a resource for police and those working with police in the context of peacekeeping missions. The guidelines provide information, brief checklists and examples of practices promoting the integration of gender considerations into various aspects of police operations, including police roles and composition of security institutions; training; prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence and missions with executive mandates. Available in English; 42 pages.

The Military Response to Victims of Domestic Violence (Battered Women Justice Project, 2003). This handbook is designed for civilian advocates working with military victims of domestic violence – both active duty victims and partners of active duty service members. Available in English.

Recruiting and Retaining Women: A Self-Assessment Guide for Law Enforcement(National Centre for Women and Policing, 2001).This manual is designed to assist law enforcement agencies in hiring and retaining more women employees. It provides step by step guidance to help agencies examine their policies and procedures and to identify and remove obstacles to hiring and retaining sworn and civilian women employees at all levels within the organization, complementing other policy efforts directly related to violence against women. Based on the context in the United States, the guide also provides a list of resources for agencies to use when planning or implementing changes to their current policies and procedures. Available in English