What progress has been made in integrating gender into security sector reform (SSR)? What issues concerning gender and SSR require further attention? This report documents a workshop held at the Free University of Berlin in November 2008 on ‘Engendering Security Sector Reform’. It finds that the debate on gender and SSR is still only incipient and that many questions remain unanswered. SSR will only live up to its ambitious aspirations if it places gender squarely at the centre of its conceptual thinking and practice.
Given the normative concerns of SSR it would seem that gender issues should be central to the conceptualisation and practice of SSR. Yet until recently gender concerns have been marginal to SSR policy. In the past few years, however, major institutions involved in SSR have increasingly recognised the centrality of gender to the conceptualisation and practice of SSR.
Papers presented at the workshop highlighted a number of points, including the following:
- Gender-sensitive SSR must focus on all security institutions rather than just the police and on men as well as women. There is also a need for a post-colonial perspective and for consideration of institutional culture, power and decision-making.
- The Gender and SSR Toolkit fills the need for policy advice and guidelines on integrating gender into SSR. The toolkit attempts to link gender across the entire range of security institutions and offers practical advice for those working in the field.
- Gender concerns were more consciously and successfully integrated in SSR in Liberia than in Sierra Leone. In both cases, significant shortfalls remain and much is still to be done towards establishing a gender-sensitive security sector.
- The cases of the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Haiti show how socio-economic developments in post-conflict societies affect options for living out specific masculine roles.
- Police in refugee camps in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda often do not take sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) seriously and are even involved in it. Community-based security arrangements can help to tackle SGBV, but may not promote gender equality.
- The new chapter on gender and SSR in the OECD Handbook on SSR is an important step forward in addressing gender concerns. The focus must now be on implementing the guidelines contained in the chapter.
- intelligence services and gender, traditional justice mechanisms and gender and men, masculinities and SSR;
- case studies on gender and SSR with documented outcomes, and rigorous comparative analysis and explicit criteria for measuring success and failure;
- conditions for institutional and cultural change;
- conceptual critiques of SSR and development policy with regard to gender;
- the impact of intervention forces and their influence on images of masculinity and/or security; and
- how to convert general recognition of the need to integrate a gender perspective on SSR into specific programmes and projects at the operational level.