Gender and SSR: Examples from ISSAT's Contributions

ISSAT strives to mainstream gender in  all its mandates. As part of our commitment to the important goal of gender equality, we initiated this "principle in practice" tool. The aim is to shed light on how ISSAT mainstreams gender in its support to the international community, including associated challenges, lessons and good practices.

Below is a list of those case studies including our work in Albania, Honduras, Nepal and the Sahel region, as well as knowledge products and external resources on gender equality and SSR. The case studies  include a concise description of the mandate, its methodology followed by examples of how a gender-sensitive approach was incorporated into the methodology design process and takeaways.  

The diversity of ISSAT's mandates across the full programme cycle phases, allows us to provide insightful takeaways useful not only for Security Sector Reform/Governance practitioners but also for the development community in general.

DCAF-ISSAT Knowledge Products on Gender and SSR

Resources on Gender and SSR

Case Studies

Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of the Juvenile Justice System Baseline Study in Albania  (Swedish Mandate)

ISSAT supported the baseline study of the Swedish Juvenile Justice programme in Albania in 2017. The methodology aimed to analyse the existing strengths and weaknesses of the legal framework, structures, capacity, and coordination systems governing the juvenile justice system. The case study on Albania evaluates ISSAT's commitment to gender equality, parity and mainstreaming in one of its mandates.

A few findings are as follows:

  • The team actively sought different perspectives from the national actors which allowed for a stronger social-cultural understanding behind the obstacles impacting access to services. For example, the team identified when girls in conflict with the law reach the age of juvenile criminal responsibility, social-cultural norms tend to influence the decision of police to divert the justice system and send the girls back to their families.  
  • The methodology was useful in identifying gaps in victim-centered services significantly impacting one sex over another. For example, in spite of established procedures prescribing the interventions of psychologists, their actual role in the process remains poorly defined and incoherent, contributing to largely passive and observer roles with limited engagement to protect the juvenile. 
  • The methodology applied enabled the team to identify a gender imbalance in the participation and access to juvenile justice system as a result of numerous intra-and interinstitutional disarticulations. This is reflected by the general lack of understanding of what information should be collected (and by whom) related to the background and circumstance of the juvenile and the very limited data sharing between the institutions, particularly gender-focused data. 

Take a look at the Albania case study and find out how ISSAT addressed gender in composition of the mandate team, methodology design, flexibility of the design to incorporate gender, gender representation of key local stakeholders and a gendered lens in the evaluation of findings. 


Credit: UN Women

Mainstreaming Gender in the EU Regional Assessment covering the Sahel (EU Mandate)

ISSAT supported the EU by designing a framework to understand the minimum operating capacities, structures, policies and processes of national security sectors, in line with the European Commission’s strategic engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. The project’s methodology aimed at designing a shared reference base, which seeks to identify fundamental elements for ensuring the optimal functioning of a security system. On that basis, an evaluation grid has been developed and used in field missions in order to assess institutional needs in the security sector.

A few findings are as follows:

  • It is critically important to look holistically at working processes to identify local strategies that were likely to increase participation and access of women to the security and justice sector. This way it is possible to assess whether women have been involved in the design, development and implementation of policies from different operational perspectives.
  • Using sex-disaggregated information in perception surveys is key to evidence-based dialogue with local actors.
  • The array of expertise drawn from a programme consortium can broaden the methodology’s gender mainstreaming; however, the final gender equality messaging should be coherent as it should be comprehensive. The incorporation of DCAF’s GSD provided for this.

To read more about ISSAT's case study on mainstreaming gender in EU programming in the Sahel, please follow the link.


Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of the Nepal Justice Sector Assessment (Norwegian mandate)

ISSAT supported Norway in a mandate to map an overview of the Nepalese population’s emerging needs and identification of possible areas for future programmatic support related to justice sector reform. From conception, the mandate strived to incorporate gender perspectives into the methodology by creating a diverse team of experts with profiles that were able to reflect upon the full spectrum of security and justice challenges. The mandate focused on the identification of the institutional gaps stemming from unmet needs of some of the most vulnerable individuals/groups.

A few findings are as follows:

  • There is a proven benefit to engaging with local partners to identify the most vulnerable and marginalised groups and disaggregating justice needs based on age, ethnicity, geographic location etc. 
  • The inclusion of professionals with relevant diverse expertise who have a cross-cutting gender lens, played a critical role in determining and capturing clear linkages between gender and broader issues such as access to justice, and gender-related threats such as human trafficking and modern day slavery (to name a few) which disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalized groups, and significantly children, women, and members of lower caste who are more at risk.
  • The added value of providing an Options Paper as one of the outputs, specifically targeting gender equality, ensures that gender is a core issue with complex characteristics (encompassing class, race, religious affiliation and poverty levels) and thus needs to be addressed consistently to promote more gender responsive and inclusive security and justice institutions.

To read more about ISSAT's gender-focused approach in the context of justice sector reform in Nepal, proceed to the case study.

Credit: Paulien Osse

Mainstreaming Gender in the framework of SDC’s Citizen Security Programme in Honduras (Swiss Mandate) 

The Swiss Development Cooperation’s (SDC) Citizen Security programme in Honduras, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), supported the implementation of the Government Policy on Comprehensive Civic Coexistence and Public Safety from 2013 to 2018. DCAF-ISSAT and Swedepeace partnered as the Swiss JSSR Team to provide technical backstopping support to SDC and their partners during this period with a focus on supporting the police reform process. Specifically, the Swiss JSSR Team engaged the SDC and partners in strategic change management of the police, strengthening civil society participation and influence, providing technical advice and support to SDC and counterparts, including JSSR thematic training, and introducing tools for conflict sensitivity, political dialogue, stakeholder analysis, scenario analysis and theory of change (ToC).

A few findings are as follows:

  • Consistent messaging backing gender equality from the senior SEDS SPU police manager was the catalyst for steering discussions during the ToC workshops in a direction that allowed the Working Group to identify gender equality entry points for inter-institutional synergies.
  • The focus on strategic change management in the backstopping methodology enabled the close interaction with SEDS police managers that was needed to effectively support them to incorporate elements of the national gender equality policy, as outcomes, in the proposed national police strategy ToC.
  • The Swiss JSSR Team national expert’s previous experience working with women’s organisations on the topic of security played an important role in understanding the challenges that police institutions face when promoting gender equality. Consultations with the National Police Gender Unit also benefited as did the overall quality of conflict sensitivity analysis in backstopping methodology.

for more information regarding the recommendations and context of ISSAT's support to the SDC’s Citizen Security Programme in Hondurasplease follow the link.

Watch an interview with Police Commissioner Gerson Velásquez, recorded by ISSAT during a recent mandate in Honduras: 

Commissioner Gerson Velásquez mentions opportunities for integrating gender mainstreaming to security sector reform. He also comments on the difficulties facing change and insists on the need for the police to take a more specific approach in regards to gender issues.

Other Related Case Studies

Toolkits and Guidance