In most security sector institutions, women constitute a small minority of the personnel. Unwelcoming working environments discourage recruitment and retention of women, and thus create a vicious circle that perpetuates their minority status. At the same time, female security sector staff associations have multiplied, promoting networking and offering mutual support among members. Many of these associations have expanded their mandate to activities reaching beyond their members’ welfare.
This occasional paper examines the structures, mandates and activities of a sampling of female staff associations and networks in the security sector, analyses whether and how they meet members’ needs, and gauges the effect or influence they have had on changing policies and practices in their institutions and in the communities they serve. Research for this paper focused on 67 international, national, regional, and local female security sector associations and networks in the military, police, corrections, justice system, fire and emergency services, immigration services, and in national security bodies and private security companies from around the world. An annex to the paper provides more information on the associations studied.