Related Tools

Institutional assessments

Last edited: December 29, 2011

This content is available in


A situational analysis may also be focused on a security institution in order to determine its capacity to prevent violence against women and girls (including internally), and respond to survivors. This type of assessment, sometimes referred to as a security sector reform or security sector institution assessment, is particularly useful for initiatives focused directly on engaging institutions, for example, providing training or to develop codes of conduct. They may also cover justice sector organizations as well.

Institutional assessments require significant consultation with security personnel and review of available documentation (e.g. policies, reports, guidance and training materials, records, etc.). Assessment teams should be particularly sensitive to confidentiality of interviews and maintaining anonymity of sources to ensure security personnel can contribute openly to the process without fear of facing consequences by supervisors or management if they are critical of the institution’s policies or practices.

What should be included in the assessment?

The illustrative questions below can be used to assess a security institution, and may be adapted for a national, sub-national or community level initiative. The questions can guide desk-research as well as information gathered through interviews or focus group discussions.

Area of assessment

Assessment Questions

Policies and Procedures  

  • Do national laws and policies on gender issues (e.g. strategy on violence against women, 1325 national action plan, anti-trafficking strategy) set out particular responsibilities for the institution? If yes, describe the responsibilities.

  • What institutional policies, programmes, infrastructure and resources are in place to address violence against women and girls? This may include:

    • specialized units, desks or focal points (gender desks, women’s police stations, anti-trafficking or domestic violence units); what is the coverage of these units?

    • dedicated infrastructure (rooms, transportation, phones and computers, etc) for addressing the issue

    • codes of conduct to promote zero tolerance for gender-based discrimination and violence, including sexual harassment

    • mechanisms to ensure collaboration and consultation with civil society, including women’s organizations

    • standard protocols and procedures for responding to incidents of violence, including on the investigation process, interviewing and providing support to survivors

  • Is there a clearly defined gender policy or plan of action which includes:

    • targets

    • timeframe

    • resources needed for implementation

    • clear responsibilities for different levels of staff (from senior management down)

    • monitoring and evaluation mechanisms

    • reporting mechanisms

  • What parts of the gender policy or plan of action have been successfully implemented, and what parts have not? why not?

  • What budget and other resource allocations are being directed towards initiatives on violence against women and girls within the institution?

  • Are services provided by police and other security personnel to respond to the needs of survivors (e.g. depending on the law, this could include: removing perpetrators from the home; enforcing orders of protection; administering post-rape treatment and prophylaxis; coordinating referrals with shelter, legal assistance, transportation, etc.)?


Case Management

  • Do police and other security personnel record and document information on:

    • number and types of violence committed (e.g. sexual, physical, psychological)

    • the age and sex of the survivor and perpetrator

    • location where the act took place (e.g. at home, in the street)

    • harm faced by the victim

  • How are reported cases monitored to ensure there is adequate follow-up and investigation of incidents? Is there evidence that there are high rates of reported cases being closed or suspended due to inability to find or identify a suspect; insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the report; claims that the report was fabricated?

  • How many gender-based violence cases (disaggregated by crime) each month are reported; investigated; and prosecuted?

  • What other data collection and/or crime analysis is undertaken on gender-based violence, either by police or by research bodies, government departments, clinics, women’s groups, non-governmental organizations, etc.?



  • What awareness-raising and training measures have been implemented to familiarize personnel at every level with their obligations with respect to: human rights, including women’s human rights; gender analysis and gender mainstreaming; national gender laws and policies; institutional gender policies; equal opportunities; sexual harassment and discrimination; gender-based violence prevention and response?

  • How many/what percentage of personnel have received comprehensive training on gender and responding violence against women and girls?

    • What does it cover?

    • What is the impact of the training?

  • Is in-depth training on specific issues – such as interviewing survivors or dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace - being provided to the right personnel?

  • Do security personnel, including senior-level management, demonstrate an understanding of gender sensitivity in terms of understanding the specific roles/ capacities/risks for women in their own institutions, and within civilian organizations and communities?

Women’s Participation in security institutions  

  • What are the numbers and respective positions of male/female personnel within security institutions?

  • Are strategic targets and other initiatives in place to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of women (including those from marginalized groups)?

  • Do women and girls have equal access to education and training so that they can qualify for positions within the police and armed forces both at entry and senior levels?

  • Are women prevented or discouraged from serving in institutions due to discrimination?

  • What are the challenges to increasing training, recruitment, retention and advancement of women?

  • What stereotypes exist regarding women’s roles as they relate to participation in the sector?

  • How are female security personnel perceived by their peers and their community?

  • Are equitable and family-friendly human resource policies and practices in place – such as adequate maternity/paternity leave, flexible work hours, child care facilities and equal pay, benefits and pension? 

  • Do female personnel have access to separate facilities, well-fitting uniforms, appropriate equipment, training, and other resources?

  • Is there a female staff association?

  • Is there a formal mentoring programme for female staff or informal monitoring process?

  • What data are collected and analyzed on staff turnover and retention? Are these data disaggregated by sex, rank, ethnicity and reasons for leaving the service?


  • Do security sector leaders (both men and women) consistently make statements and commitments in public regarding violence against women?

  • What are the numbers and percentages of women and men in leadership positions? 

  • Are women prevented from serving in security sector leadership roles due to threats or fear of violence (including harassment)?

  • Are women and men equally involved in decision-making, including at the highest levels?

  • How does the institution emphasize gender equality goals in its public messages and communications?

  • How is attention given to gender-sensitive language and images in institutional documentation (e.g. brochures, posters, crime reporting forms, etc.)?

Accountability and Oversight  

Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse and Codes of Conduct

  • Is violence, discrimination, sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse being perpetrated by personnel against female co-workers, civilians or other groups/individuals? Are incidents systematic or isolated?

  • Is there a code of conduct that clearly sets out a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and abuse on the basis of sex, harassment and violence? How is the code monitored and enforced?

  • What procedures are in place to vet candidates for previous perpetration of violence against women, international humanitarian and human rights law?

  • Is a policy on sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in place and implemented?

    • Does it include clear procedures, confidential reporting mechanisms and sanctions?

    • How is staff made aware of them?

    • Are complaints being adequately dealt with?

    • Are complaints tracked over time and what are the trends in cases filed?

    • What support services and protections are in place (e.g. counselling, advocacy support, confidentiality, protection from retaliation) for a per son who makes a complaint?


  • How is the institution being monitored for compliance with national laws and policies and international and regional standards on violence against women?

  • Are systems in place to accept complaints from the public? How is the public made aware of them? Are complaints being adequately dealt with?

  • Has there been an increase or decrease in complaints against personnel of gender-based violence, sexual harassment, sex discrimination or other human rights abuse over time?

  • Do the internal and external oversight mechanisms monitor issues on violence, including complaints of sexual discrimination? Do they have measures, expertise and resources to monitor whether people’s diverse security and justice needs are being met?

  • Does an ombudsperson exist and does it have the funds and expertise to monitor issues relating to discrimination, abuse and gender inequalities? Is it effective in enforcing codes of conduct/policies?

  • Do external oversight bodies include women and women’s organizations?

  • Is staff accountable for addressing gender equality issues, including harassment of female staff and increasing women’s participation in security institutions? Are there any incentives for staff to address gender equalities and include women in security reform processes?

Coordination with other actors    

  • What official and unofficial mechanisms exist to ensure integrated cross-sectoral responses to violence?

  • How is harmonization with other policies encouraged?

  • Are there joint plans of action between security institutions on preventing and responding to violence?

  • What links exist to government agencies that work on the issue, such as ministries for gender/ women’s affairs, social services, public health and education?

  • Do forums for consultation/coordination with civil society organizations and communities exist?

  • Do they include female stakeholders, survivors and women’s organizations?

  • Do protocols exist for referral to civil society organizations, including women’s groups? 

  • Are data and information, such as rates and prevalence of violence, being collected, co-ordinated and shared (except for information that should remain confidential)?

  • Are there meetings with justice sector personnel – in particular, prosecutors – to know what evidence is needed in court to support a case?

Community relations 

  • How do perceptions of the institution and its role differ between men and women, girls and boys?

  • To what degree is the institution as a good employer?

  • What suggestions do community members have of how the institution could improve its services?

Engagement with the international community    

  • How, if at all, are international actors supporting security policies and programmes addressing violence against women in the country? If not, how could they be engaged to support such initiatives?

  • Are internationally supported security sector reform programmes sufficiently integrating gender and women’s issues, as well as the protection of women and girls?

  • Do international actors have gender expertise and sufficient understanding of local gender and women’s issues, including on violence and their respective cultural contexts?

  • If coordination structures among international actors exist, how can security issues related to gender-based violence be addressed within them? 

  • Are international actors consulting with female stakeholders – including survivors, women’s organizations, female parliamentarians, and women’s ministries? 

Illustrative example: Questionnaire to determine police station responses to gender-based violence (Uganda)

This Incident Report Questionnaire facilitates the compilation of data on violence against women and girls in the surveyed community. The form will provide information on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases reported during the last full year. In order to complete the report, it is necessary to visit the police station and the health facility/centre of the community surveyed. If the community does not have a police station and/or health facility, visit the nearest station (responsible for the security in the community).

Police Station Identification Information

Name of Administrative Region (e.g. District/ County)

Name of  Administrative Sub- Region 1 (e.g. Sub-County, Town )

Name of  Administrative Sub-Region 2 (e.g. Parish)

Name of Administrative Sub-Region 3 (e.g. Village)

Name of Administrative Sub-Region 3 (e.g. hamlet, ward)






Date of interview dd/mm/year

Name of Interviewer







Women Interviewer No.




Police Station Information

How many police officers are responsible for SGBV in this station?

Number of :

male police officers:___________   female officers_____________

 How many villages does this police station cover?

Name all villages (including interviewed village):__ ______________________________________________________

Have you had any training on SGBV in past 12 months?


Yes……………..1    No…………………2      Don’t Know…………...9

When was the last time any of your officers received training on SGBV and women/girls rights?

Month____________________     Year______________________

Subject of the training___________________________________

Number of officers trained Male:___________  Female _________

How many of them are still working in this police station?

Male:_______________       Female____________________

Is there a safe room to protect victims of sexual violence in this police station? If not why?




How are sexual violence cases handled in this station? (please indicate, steps, procedures, reports to fill in by victim and police officers, etc)





What type of medical documentation is required to make a police report?

Indicate as many as apply.

A. Standard form

B. Forensic evidence

C. Medical exam findings

D. Signature and authorization of the doctor

E. Additional signatures or authorizations

F. Other documents, specify________________________________

How many of the sexual violence cases reported last year were filed to court?


(Compare this to information in Table below)

Reported Incidents on SGBV at Police Station this year

Year/ Month

Type of Incident or Offense (as coded below)

Agency/ Organization

where first reported

Outcome (if known) Examples: No charges filed, perpetrator convicted, case dismissed





























Codes for Types of Incidents: A. Rape , B. Attempted rape, C. Sexual abuse/assault, D. Sexual exploitation, E. Forced Marriage and/or attempted, F. Domestic Violence (intimate partner), G. Domestic violence (other family member),H. FGM and/or attempted, and I. Other GBV.

Total Incidents Reported by Month

Type of Incident














A. Rape














B. Attempted rape














C. Sexual abuse/ assault














D. Sexual exploitation














E. Forced Marriage and/or attempted














F. Domestic Violence (intimate partner)














G. Domestic violence (other family member)














H. FGM and/or attempted














I. Other GBV














Adapted from: Kimetrica. 2008 for UNIFEM Baseline Survey Uganda conducted as part of baseline for the DFID/ UNIFEM programme: Supporting Women’s Engagement in Peace Building and Preventing Sexual Violence: Community Led Approaches 2007-2009.


Illustrative Tool: Interview Guide for Security Sector Personnel

The interviewer should introduce him/herself, explain the objectives of the study and request the respondent’s consent to be interviewed. Note the respondent’s name, position and job title; describe his or her duties; and enter the institution’s name and location and date of the interview.   

A.   Work performed by the respondent

  1. What is your position and what does it involve?

  2. What do you understand of the term violence against women and girls/ family violence/ domestic violence/ sexual violence? (select most appropriate terms)

  3. What type of services do you and your institution offer for women and girls affected by violence?

  4. What steps does someone need to follow to report case of violence against women and girls/ family violence/ domestic violence/ sexual violence follow (select most appropriate terms)?

  5. What should the police do in cases of violence against women and girls? What do they normally do?

  6. In the process of filing a report or presenting charges in a case of violence against women and girls,

    • How many different people does the survivor have to see?

    • Are they men or women?

    • Where is the report taken?

    • Who takes it?

    • Does she have to go to different places or buildings?

    • How much time does the survivor have to wait at each step?

    • Is priority given to women/ girls who have been physically or sexually abused?

  7. In regards to medical exams for survivors of physical and sexual assault,

    • Who determines whether an exam should be performed?

    • What types of examinations are performed?

    • How does a person get a forensic exam and report?

  8. Do you know of arrests of perpetrators in this community? If the answer is “Yes”: How are they carried out? Where are they carried out? Who are accepted as witnesses?

  9. How many people with this type of problem does your institution serve per month? Do you have a way of keeping records of the cases? Are there forms and procedures for recording them? Could you explain it to me?

  10. Are specialized forensic doctors available? Where? How many are there? Are they men or women? Do they work on weekends? At night?

  • Follow up

  • Outcomes

  • Response of the affected person

  • Difficulties found in the process

   B.   Experience with people affected by violence

  1. Have you ever come into direct contact with cases of violence against women and girls/ family violence/ domestic violence/ sexual violence (select most appropriate terms)?

  2. Could you please tell me how this experience originated, what did you do, and what the women/ girl affected did?  (INQUIRE ABOUT SOME OF THE POSSIBLE CASES, SPECIFYING WHAT WAS DONE/ NOT DONE, SUCH AS)

    • Contacts facilitated by the service provider/ other follow-up actions

    • Reactions of persons involved

    • Referrals to other institutions

    • Outcomes

    • Difficulties in the process

  3. Do you know of other organizations or people working on violence against woman and girls in this community? Who are they? What is your relationship with them? Is there intersectoral coordination (with institutions) in order to address the needs of affected women and girls?

  4. Are you aware of the legislation protecting women against family violence (If any?)

C.   The Social Meanings related to Family Violence and the Affected Women

  1. Do you believe that [violence against women and girls/ family violence/ domestic violence/ sexual violence (select most appropriate term)] is a common problem in this community?

  2. How is it most frequently manifested in this community? In this country?

  3. What are the reasons and causes for violence against women and girls?

  4. What should the survivor do to deal with her situation? (ASK ABOUT EACH OF THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS)

    • if a woman abused by her partner

    • if an elderly woman abused by her son or daughter

    • if a young woman sexually abused by her boyfriend

    • if a young woman sexually abused by her uncle

  5. Why do you think there are cases of women who stay with their abusive spouses/ partners?

  6. Why do you think there are cases of sexually or physically abused women and girls who do not report it?

  7. Why do you think there are cases of psychologically abused women and girls who do not report it?

  8. Do you believe that something should be done with regard to [violence against women and girls/ family violence/ domestic violence/ sexual violence (select most appropriate terms)]? What would be the best way of preventing or reducing violence against women and girls in this community? What are the obstacles or problems to achieve this? What could be done in order to improve the response of the police sector in cases of women who have been abused?

  9. What changes in legislation, policies, norms, or staffing would facilitate your work in providing services to cases of violence against women and girls?

  10. What changes in the behaviour or attitudes of the staff with whom you work would facilitate your work in this area?    

Excerpt adapted from: PAHO/WHO. 2002. “Gender and Public Health Series Social Response to Family Violence Women, Health and Development Programme. PAHO/WHO, 2002; and Shrader, E. and M. Sagot. 2000. “Domestic Violence: Women’s Way Out.” Occasional Publication No. 2. PAHO.Washington, D.C.