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General Considerations

Last edited: December 29, 2011

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A situational analysis highlights key characteristics of the programme setting and stakeholders, including the risk factors (e.g. police acceptance and perpetration of abuse of women and girls) and protective factors (e.g. presence of gender desk/focal point in local police facility). Understanding what types of violence exist, who is most affected, and how women and girls rate the security services and actors they have access to, provides programme designers some idea of key issues to be addressed. This review is needed to determine the potential strategies, entry points, and partnerships for the planning and design of a particular intervention, which helps to ensure its appropriateness to the local context and avoid duplication of efforts. A situational analysis is distinct from and cannot replace the baseline analysis which is conducted at the start of a programme after strategies have been identified, in order to measure change, although it may complement it. A good situational analysis should be grounded in a human rights-based approach, among other core guiding principles.

What should be included in a situational analysis?

The table below outlines key areas with examples of relevant questions for a situational analysis of the sector that can be adapted for use at the national or local level. Potential sources of information are provided where available and where data is limited, primary research will need to be conducted. The questions could be used as part of survey questionnaires, interviews with key stakeholders or to guide focus group discussions.

Nature of violence against women and girls
(types and extent of violence for the particular context - national, sub-national, etc.) 



  • What are the main forms of gender-based violence taking place? 

  • What is known about the prevalence and incidence of violence?

  • What are the characteristics of survivors and perpetrators?

  • Are there reported cases of widespread rapes of particular groups of women and/or girls?

  • Are there particular groups of women or girls that experience particular forms of abuse (e.g. girls between 10-19, women living with HIV)

  • Are particular groups of men perpetrating violence against women and girls (e.g. armed groups; teachers)?

    • Is there evidence of an increase or decrease in reported acts of violence by all perpetrators, including security personnel, over time and recorded by police and other service providers?

    • Which service providers do women report incidents of violence to (health care, social service, police, other)?

    • Do particular locations or situations pose an increased risk (when going to work, farms in transport, in the office or when performing political activities)?

Legal and Policy Framework
(to address violence against women and the sector’s obligations to prevent and respond to the issue)

  • What legal commitments have been made (in line with international, regional and national instruments) that mandate the sector to prevent and respond to violence against women (e.g. authorizing police to make primary aggressor arrests, issuing orders of protection, mandating police to conduct risk assessments and safety planning, among other measures to support survivors)?

  • What national or local strategies, policies or plans exist which establish/clarify the sector’s role in addressing the issue (e.g. national action plans or strategies on violence against women)?

  • Are there opportunities for women and girls to provide inputs into security-related laws, policies and programmes?

  • How are security priorities identified, and how are women and girls’ views sought?

For country examples of national laws and policy measures, see the

Institutional obligations and practices

(within national initiatives and security sector reform)

  • See the detailed institutional assessment to review security policies, programmes, infrastructure and resources in place and targeted community efforts by institutions to address gender-based violence and discrimination

Capacity of police and other personnel

  • What training or capacity development efforts are in place to ensure police and other security personnel understand gender inequality and violence against women; know their legal obligations to prevent and respond to the issue; and have the skills to implement their mandate (at the policy and operational level)?

  • Do efforts involve all personnel from administrative staff through leadership, only recruits, or specific focal points?

  • Are training opportunities institutionalized or conducted on an ad-hoc basis (e.g. integrated into training/ professional development curriculum or single sessions/ pilot interventions over a short period of time)? How effective are these?

  • How are capacity development initiatives resourced?

  • What tools /material resources are available to support gender-based violence initiatives (e.g. mentors for focal points; guidance and reference materials)?

  • What barriers do police face in implementing their policies/ carrying out their activities?

Coordination and collaboration mechanisms

  • What official and unofficial mechanisms are in place to increase coordination between the security sector and other sectors, civil society and other partners addressing the issue? For example, joint plans of action between police and other government agencies that work on equity issues, such as ministries for gender/women’s affairs, social services, public health and education (locally or nationally).

  • What are the entry points for police to engage in existing coordination mechanisms (e.g. monthly meetings; partnerships with victim advocates; joint case management)?

  • Are there referral mechanisms involving police, health, women’s organizations and other survivor support groups operating at the community level? Are there protocols for collaboration at the ministerial level?

  • What forums for consultation/coordination with civil society organizations and communities exist? Do they include female stakeholders and women’s organizations?

  • Is data and information on incidents being collected, coordinated and shared (except for information that should remain confidential)?

  • What civil society initiatives involve the security sector? How are these programmes engaged in efforts to end gender-based violence implemented by security institutions and other state actors?

Security Needs of Women and Girls


  • What are the particular security needs, perceptions and priorities for women and girls from different backgrounds (rural/urban residence, ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation, abilities, age, education, etc)?

  • What are common concerns across all groups of women and girls?

  • What are priority issues for the different groups?

  • What services do women and girls need from police or other security personnel, which are not offered or adequately provided?

Ability to access security services

  • Are laws and instruments related to the rights of women and girls, and police responsibilities to uphold these rights adequately communicated to women and girls? Are they adequately implemented?

  • What is the geographic coverage of police/ other uniformed personnel who are able to respond to incidents of violence (e.g. police stations with trained staff in every municipal capital or within 1 hour walking distance of each village)?

  • What factors prevent women and girls from reporting abuse and accessing security services?

    • discrimination against particular groups of women (e.g. unwed pregnant women, women from minority groups)

    • geographic or language barriers

    • cost of seeking help (e.g. transportation, fees)

    • threat or fear of escalated violence

      • How do women and girls view the police/ military? What would increase their confidence in them? Do they have the same perception towards female security personnel?

      • How do security initiatives engage and consult with women and girls?

Adapted from: OECD/ DAC, 2010, Handbook on Security Sector Reform: Section 9: Integrating Gender Awareness and Equality.


Illustrative Sources of Data:

Information for the situational analysis may be found through a variety of sources as follows:


A situational analysis may also look towards opportunities for interventions and identify:

  • Existing strategies and activities or gaps in interventions which involve the sector, and opportunities to integrate violence against women and girls, rather than creating a separate strategy; and

  • The actors and organizations already active in this area, to identify potential partners for the sector and avoid duplication of efforts.


Example: Situational Analysis on Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

In November 2005, at the request of the United States Agency for International Development in the Dominican Republic, Chemonics International Inc conducted a situational analysis of trafficking in the country to review the scope of trafficking in persons nationally; assess efforts related to the prevention, protection and prosecution of trafficking; identify gaps in interventions; and provide recommendations for a possible foreign assistance response by the United States Agency for International Development.

The assessment involved a team of two consultants who conducted a desk review of the relevant literature and research available, followed by in-country interviews over a two-week period. The team had an introductory briefing session on the content and deliverables associated with the scope of work and a closing discussion to present preliminary conclusions and programmatic recommendations with the United States Mission. Interviews were held with over 30 key stakeholders, representing state and non-state partners, international organizations, and included personnel from the National Police School, Police Department Dealing with Trafficking and Tourist Police.

The assessment made key recommendations related to the security sector, such as the need for specialized and institutionalized training of law enforcement personnel to improve identification, investigation and prosecution of cases; and reforming and strengthening witness protection programmes; among other complementary recommendations related to  national coordination mechanisms; support to civil society organizations raising public awareness and providing protection services; and increasing knowledge exchange and funding for programmes to prevent trafficking, protect survivors and promote prosecution of cases.

Source: USAID. 2005. Anti-Trafficking Technical Assistance: Dominican Republic Anti-Trafficking Assessment. USAID. Washington, D.C.


Example: Situational Analysis of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Internally Displaced Persons’ Camps after the Post Election violence in Kenya 2009. Methodology A situational analysis was conducted in Kenyan IDP camps to determine levels of gender-based violence, with information gathered through the following methods:

  • Survey of 629 people (400 female, 229 male)
  • 28 focus group discussions with various groups involving 249 people (174 women and 75 men)
  • Key informant interviews with aid workers, camp leaders and other stakeholders
  • 10 case studies

Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS software, with qualitative data analyzed manually.  Findings

  • Gender-based violence was fourth (10.7%) and security eighth (5.1%) out of key concerns of men and women in the camps.

  • Law enforcers were seen as the main perpetrators of gender-based violence by 12.5% of those interviewed

  • Insecurity was seen as a contributing factor to the violence.

  • 22.3% of those who did not experience gender-based violence believed it was due to the presence of security.

  • 5.5% of violence survivors said that they reported the incident; 31.1% said that they did not.

  • Nearly half of survivors reporting incidents of violence spoke to camp leaders (43.9%), followed by law enforcers (35.4%).

  • Among interviewed women who reported violence, only 0.6% said that they received some form of security assistance.

  • The reluctance of law enforcers to recognize gender-based violence cases was identified as a challenge to reporting by 6.9% of interviewees.

  • A key recommendation given was the need to create a friendly reporting environment through training law enforcers/health workers, among other service providers

Source: Njiru, R., 2009. Situational Analysis of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the Internally Displaced Persons’ Camps after the Post Election Violence in Kenya, based on Kenya National Commission on Gender and Development, NGO Women’s Empowerment Link and UNFPA, 2009, Situational Analysis of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the Internally Displaced Persons’ Camps after the Post Election Violence in Kenya.