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Implement mentoring and knowledge exchanges

Last edited: December 29, 2011

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As a complementary practice to broader training programmes or in the absence of training, practice-based knowledge and skills development mechanisms can be implemented to increase institutional and human capacities to address violence against women as follows:

  • Institute mentoring and coaching of security personnel: Senior personnel within an institution can serve as mentors or coaches to junior-ranking personnel, or institutions may pair external mentors/ experts on gender-based violence with senior police or military leaders for a period of time.

Example: The ‘Gender Coach’ programme in Sweden

Top management have both the power and ability to influence structures and behaviour within the organizations but do not often have the time to take part in in-depth training to deepen their understanding of gender equality. Genderforce Sweden initiated a ‘Gender Coach’ Programme pairing 12 senior managers within peace and security institutions with 12 coaches having extensive knowledge of gender equality issues. Programme participants include the Chief of Staff for the Swedish Army and the Director of the Armed Forces Training and Procurement units. The initiative evolved into Gender Field Advisor training for all missions. Feedback on the programme has been positive with participants noting changes in their communication and behaviour. 

Source: Genderforce Sweden; Tõnisson Kleppe, T., (2008), ‘Gender Training for Security Sector Personnel: Good Practices and Lessons Learned Tool 12’, Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit. Geneva: DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN INSTRAW

  • Provide exposure/ study visits for key military and police personnel within or across countries to promote learning between countries which have successfully integrated gender and violence against women in their national legislation and security policies. Effective exchange opportunities can be established between communities as well and where resources are limited, activities can be supported to evolve over time from a single exchange into a systematic capacity development practice within the institutions involved. 

Examples: Bilateral and Regional Exchanges

Rwanda: The Rwanda National Police Gender Desk, with support from UNIFEM (now UN Women) and UNDP, has received study visits from law enforcement personnel from Southern Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Burundi to demonstrate how the gender desk works and foster inter-regional exchange on good practice to respond to violence against women and girls. Given the Gender Desk’s success as a model, the Rwandan National Police and Defence Force, in collaboration and with support from the Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign, organized, the Kigali International Conference on The Role of Security Organs in Ending Violence against Women and Girls in October 2010. The conference brought together 150 participants and enabled high-level security actors to exchange practices and discuss strategies for the sector to address gender-based violence in the region. Participants from 12 African countries (Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia) represented police chiefs, senior police and military officers responsible for gender and community policing as well as prominent members of civil society organizations, the United Nations. The meeting led to the Kigali Declaration, in which signatories agreed to 12 key commitments to improve their ability to address violence against women and the establishment of a regional secretariat to support ongoing learning and exchange for implementing the commitments and strengthening sector practices.

Source: UN Women. 2010. “Report from the Kigali International Conference on The Role of Security Organs in Ending Violence against Women.” UN Women. Kigali.


Spain: As part of the European Commission-funded HERA Project (2011-2012), which aims to strengthen legislative and operational measures to improve police support and responses to women survivors, periodic knowledge exchanges have been held for police personnel and others working on the issue from the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Italy, Romania and Latvia. For example, in June 2011, a regional meeting was held for European police partners to discuss models of legislation, police management, support and training, databases, as well as approaches to collaboration in their respective countries, with particular emphasis on the design of police protocols. In November 2011, the local government of Valencia hosted a follow-up two-day symposium on the role of the police and their response to violence against women, with representatives from the local police, government and ministries, members of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, civil society networks, academics and the United Nations. Read more about the Hera Project (in Spanish).