Mainstreaming Gender in the EU Regional Assessment covering the Sahel

ISSAT was mandated by the European Union’s Fiduciary Trust Fund for Africa to design an assessment framework adapted to understand the minimum operating capacities, structures, policies and processes of national security sectors. The countries concerned by this mandate were Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The mandate’s objective was to develop the assessment framework and use it in the four contexts, drawing conclusions and recommendations for capacity building support by the European Union and allowing for comparative analysis where possible.

Since the start of the mandate, ISSAT intended to ensure that the approach was in line with the European Commission’s strategic engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. This was clearly reflected in the mandate’s Terms of Reference and integrated into the mandate’s design and implementation phases.

The mandate looked at four main aspects of security and justice sector institutions: human resources management, means, equipment and structures and shared values. The ISSAT team looked at representation levels of women and men across all security and justice institutions including women’s participation in decision-making processes, where data was available. The report submitted to the Commission included explicit recommendations related to identifying local strategies that were likely to increase advancement and recruitment of women. The analysis paid particular attention to the role of the informal non-state sector which seemed to in most contexts include higher participation by women as actors and beneficiaries.

The diversity of the population’s needs was equally taken into account through community perception surveys. The questionnaires’ design allowed sex-disaggregated data and both women and men equally participated in this process. The analysis of the surveys’ results was informed by the gender of the respondent allowing for valuable insights to be generated related to the security sector’s legitimacy and credibility levels.  The final reports’ dissemination should help highlight the distinct impact of EUTF projects for men, women, boys and girls.

Proposed takeaways:

  1. It is critically important to look holistically at security and justice sectors to identify the actors (which could be informal, non-state, ad hoc or parallel structures) where women or certain socio-cultural groups tend be better represented, and their needs better addressed.
  2. Increasing representation of a certain gender or socio-cultural group in security and justice institutions can only be done through local strategies, with community based organisations acing as a bridge between the community’s needs and the institutions’ realities.
  3. Looking at recruitment strategies, won’t reflect the real systemic gaps that might be hindering women from accessing the formal institutional frameworks. The need to look at capital versus regional recruitment, entry exams, training, retention and family friendly policies, and common institutional values is of key importance.
  4. Including a gender dimension to perception surveys is not enough. The analysis of the results needs to be informed by that dimension and active attention should be given to result variation with respect to gender and/or socio-cultural identities inorder to inform conclusions and recommendations adequately.

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