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Overview

  • Creating security institutions that are representative of the population they seek to serve - both women and men, from rural and urban areas, diverse socio-economic backgrounds and identity groups is an important aspect of strengthening the credibility, trust and legitimacy of the sector from the public’s perspective.

  • Increasing the proportion of women in the police and armed forces to ensure a critical mass of women are represented in the sector is particularly important for gaining the trust of women and girl survivors; can increase the operational effectiveness of security institutions; and broaden the range of skills available to uniformed personnel in violence prevention and response.

Percentage of female police officers

2002-2010 (select countries)

Country

Year

%Female

South Africa

2006

29%

Nicaragua

2007

26%

Canada

2006

18%

Kosovo

2007

18%

Liberia

2010

17%

Cyprus

2006

16%

Sierra Leone

2010

16%

Ghana

2010

15%

Guinea Bissau

2010

14.4%

United States of America

2006

12-14%

Nigeria

2010

12.4%

Mali

2010

11.5%

Cote d’Ivoire

2010

11.4%

Finland

2004

10%

Guatemala

2003

10%

Belize

2003

9%

Romania

2005

8%

Panama

2003

8%

Costa Rica

2002

8%

Dominican Republic

2003

7.5%

El Salvador

2003

7%

Togo

2010

6.6%

Burkina Faso

2010

6%

Cape Verde

2010

6%

Honduras

2005

6%

Senegal

2010

5%

India

2006

2%

Sources: Denham (2008) Police Reform and Gender; DCAF, 2010. Security for All: West Africa’s Good Practices in Gender and the Security Sector; GTZ. 2005. Gender and Citizen Security Regional Training Manual.

  • There is a large variation in the representation of women in police services worldwide, but overall, women are under-represented compared to men.

  • Evidence suggests that increasing women’s representation in the police and armed forces supports improved community relations, encourages women and girls to report violations, and strengthens the commitment of the police/military to addressing the issue. However, the presence of female personnel alone does not automatically lead to improvements in attitudes and support provided to survivors (Denham, 2008; National Center for Women and Policing, 2001).

  • Transforming security institutions so they are more responsive to the rights and needs of women and girls requires specific recruitment, retention and advancement measures which increase the representation of women in these institutions. This should be part of broader gender-responsive efforts, including institutionalized training which promotes zero tolerance for violence and encourage changes in ingrained images of masculinity and attitudes related to violence against women, and greater accountability mechanisms for personnel, among other institutional measures (National Center for Women and Policing, 2001; Bastick and de Torres, 2010; European Union Police Mission, 2010).