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Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis

Last edited: December 29, 2011

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  • A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate internal and external opportunities for a project/programme or institution/ organization. It can also facilitate the development of an action plan for a new initiative.

    • Strengths and Weaknesses reflect the internal context within a programme or organization. 

    • Opportunities and Threats refer to the external context, including factors outside of the programme or organization’s control which affect their work.

Example: SWOT analysis for institutionalizing police officer training programme on domestic violence





Strengths (internal capacities):

  • There is strong commitment by leadership within the police force to improve police response to domestic violence

  • A number of competent police officers have completed a training of trainers and are available to train new recruits

  • Pilot domestic violence training curriculum and materials exist and have been successfully applied with police recruits

Weaknesses (internal limitations):

  • Limited police presence and staffing within communities  and pressure from managers in local police stations may prevent personnel from attending all the training sessions

  • Lack of data recording and reporting system for domestic violence within the police force, so it may be difficult to put training into practice

  • High-turnover of community-level police


Opportunities (positive external factors):

  • The local NGO which conducted the pilot training on gender-based violence for police has expressed an interest in working with the police training department to integrate the course into the pre-service and ongoing professional development training programmes.

  • An international donor has funded training on domestic violence for the military and is interested in extending similar support to the police.

Threats (external limitations/ challenges):

  • Violence against women is considered a social norm by community leaders, who may not support police intervention in cases of abuse;

  • The legislation on domestic violence does not specify response measures to be taken by police, which may challenge efforts to implement a standard police response introduced in the training

  • Government budget cuts may mean that the programme will not receive adequate funding

Adapted from: DCAF. 2009. Gender and security Sector Reform Training Resource website: Civil Society Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender Exercise 6. DCAF. Geneva.

  • Key considerations for conducting a SWOT analysis include:

    • An experienced facilitator should lead the exercise with a group of stakeholders from the target institution or actors involved in a specific initiative (a group should be less than 20 people to be most effective, with larger groups divided into four smaller groups to brainstorm on the analysis)

    • If participants are not familiar with the method, the facilitator should provide an introduction to the SWOT analysis, explaining the four components with examples of what could be included in each before breaking the group into small teams (6-8 people) to complete the analysis.

    • It is important to provide adequate time for groups to brainstorm options, present findings to the larger group, and discuss the analysis together to ensure the analysis is comprehensive and considers the perspectives of different stakeholders who will be involved or benefit from the initiative (DCAF, 2009).

Key tool

Gender and Security Sector Reform Training Package (DCAF, 2009). This website, for practitioners working within or with security sector actors and institutions, includes training activities and materials to accompany the Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit. The site provides two activities to conduct a SWOT analysis: Civil Society Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender Exercise 6; and Police Reform and Gender Exercise 6.