Pakistan: Training Women to Participate in Security Sector Policy Making

Lack of training and support is a major obstacle to women’s participation in security sector policy-making and programming. Security processes often exclude women in their development and implementation and women may need enhanced advocacy capabilities to address this exclusion. Often women in the security sector have no mentors or support networks and are provided little access to the forums that discuss national or local security priorities. Male policy makers may also often lack knowledge about how to craft inclusive security sector policies and programmes.

The Institute for Inclusive Security works through research, training, and advocacy to advance women’s inclusion in peace and security processes. The central focus of their policy work and programming is to recruit, retain, and professionalize women in the security sector not just to train women to collaborate with the security sectors. Inclusive Security organizes joint workshops and consultations during which women peacebuilders and security actors discuss how to better account for women’s needs in security sector reform.

In Pakistan, Inclusive Security and partner organization PAIMAN Alumni Trust held a series of multi-sectoral capacity building workshops to advance the inclusion of women in the country’s policy-making on countering violent extremism (CVE). Inclusive Security and PAIMAN brought together female delegates of civil society from every province with women working in provincial and federal police forces and parliaments in Islamabad.

Based on a training curriculum developed with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) (see box below for more detail), the initial workshops focussed on the role women can and should play in addressing CVE. These discussions were important to build trust and a common consensus around these issues among the women. Since it was their first opportunity to meet representatives from the other sectors, they needed to increase their understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities and think about how they could jointly contribute to CVE. The second workshop then focused on how they could address or work around the current shortcomings of the security sector in Pakistan. The women were able to formulate specific recommendations to ensure that the national action plan on CVE will give more attention to gender-specific needs and increase the recruitment, retention and professionalization of women in the police force.

The partners equip select Pakistani women leaders in civil society, parliament, and the police to impact processes and dialogues related to countering violent extremism in Pakistan by:

  1. Deepening participants understanding of women’s roles in countering violent extremism, the existing institutions that develop policies related to security issues, and the impact that they can have on national security processes and dialogues.
  2. Connecting participants to other leaders and policymakers in Pakistan, the US, and the region so that they can share information about the role of women in countering violent extremism and build a broader network.
  3. Increasing the participants’ advocacy skills so that they can effectively advance women’s inclusion in security-setting policy processes and institutions, including Pakistan’s law enforcement sector.
  4. Building cross-sectoral collaborative approaches to increase women’s inclusion in countering violent extremism and increase trust and information sharing between sectors.

Excerpt from the book Local Ownership in Security: Case Studies of Peacebuilding Approaches edited by Lisa Schirch with Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and published by The Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.