The Security Sector and Gender in West Africa. A survey of police, defence, justice and penal services in ECOWAS states

About (English version): 

Since 2008, when the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) began working on gender and security sector transformation in West Africa, we have repeatedly been asked for information on gender and security from other countries in the region, such as examples of good practices or gaps that need to be addressed. Equally often, however, that information was not available. Data on gender and security sector institutions (SSIs) in West Africa are both hard to come by and dispersed. This survey represents an attempt to systematically document the status of gender integration within the security sectors in member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Much of the information in this survey report has never before been published or compared with data from other countries in the region.

This report is designed to be a resource for people working within, or with, SSIs; for those interested in governance and development issues in West Africa; and for those involved with gender-related issues. We hope that the information presented here will assist in future initiatives to build better, more equitable SSIs and to provide security and justice to women, men, girls and boys. 

This report is meant to serve multiple purposes. In particular:

  • The good practices identified in the summary and analysis of findings can serve as guidance for policies and procedures.
  • The key recommendations can be a useful starting point for discussing what gender initiatives are needed within a specific SSI.
  • The country profiles provide useful snapshots of the state of gender mainstreaming in each country’s security sector.
  • Following one indicator across the different SSIs enables regional and institutional comparison.
  • Information on the different indicators can also serve as baselines from which to assess change at the institutional, national and regional levels. 

After several rounds of revision and consultation, we selected 101 indicators to provide a snapshot of the current level of gender integration within each country’s security sector (see Annex 1). 5 of the indicators relate to national security sector governance, 24 to police services, 23 to armed forces and gendarmeries, 20 to justice systems and 29 to penal services. For each institution, these indicators were divided into 5 key areas of gender mainstreaming: policies and procedures, institutional structure, personnel, training and internal/external oversight. In order to allow for inter-institutional analysis, each institution was asked the same core set of questions.

These indicators were selected to address 2 questions: Is the SSI internally equitable, representative and non-discriminatory? Does the SSI provide adequate services in response to the different security and justice needs of women, men, boys and girls? As this was a broad regional survey, rather than an in-depth institutional assessment, we focused on 4 SSIs and selected largely quantitative indicators. Thus the survey provides information on whether or not institutional measures exist as opposed to an evaluation of their actual impact. For instance, one indicator informs us that in West Africa 18 of the 56 SSIs surveyed have gender structures assigned to them, such as a gender focal point, but does not tell us what impact, if any, such structures have had. We very much hope that more in-depth, qualitative and quantitative analysis will be undertaken so that questions on impact can be answered. 

Total energy: 

Share the resource


Add new comment