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 support1 to SDC and their partners during this period with a focus on supporting the police reform process.

As part of the police reform process, the National Police are driving forward a doctrinal shift towards a comprehensive community policing strategy that, amongst other goals, seeks to strengthen cooperation with government agencies including those working on gender equality and protection of vulnerable groups, and to reform the police education system which is considered to be military in culture.

The methodology designed by the Swiss JSSR Team to support SDC and partners, the Secretary for Security (SEDS), was adjusted in accordance with expressed needs over time. This resulted in a heavy focus on strategic change management of the police applying tools consistent with a conflict-sensitive programme management (CSPM) approach. 

However, it was only in the later phases of the backstopping that the Swiss JSSR Team was able to effectively exploit a key entry point for gender equality promotion. When supporting the SEDS Strategic Planning Unit (SPU) theory of change (ToC) design for the implementation of their national strategy, the Swiss JSSR Team was able to steer the ToC Working Group towards alignment with national policies on gender equality.

Key to this was the vocal support of the Head of the SPU who would also become a key ally and cornerstone of the proposed ToC (see video link). The subsequent missions were able to build on this momentum by actively seeking more gender equality entry points as part of the monitoring of the SDC support programme results framework, which was a central component of the backstopping. Other factors that enabled the Swiss JSSR Team to promote gender equality in the backstopping was the incorporation of a national expert, who brought valuable experience working with women’s organisations, and an ISSAT SSR Officer specialising in human rights-based approaches (HRBA).

During one backstopping mission in 2017, workshops with the SDC were conducted in Tegucigalpa to specifically identify HRBA and gender equality entry points in their new police reform support programme. Working through a conflict-sensitive scenario analysis it was recommended that the new programme should seek the development of internal policies that would strengthen system-wide internal complaints mechanisms. Such policies should include those specifically for addressing gender quality and sexual harassment, in contrast to another proposal to support the creation of a gender unit in the police basic training college which would be expected to respond to complaints in the backdrop of a system lacking supporting policies. A parallel recommendation included the promotion of a female police officer’s association, which would aim to influence internal policy on gender equality. This recommendation was inspired by the female police officer’s Association created in Ecuador in 2017. However, after consulting with the national counterpart, it was decided the timing was not appropriate citing a fear of stigmatisation or backlash against officers championing such a proposal.

In this context, the methodology’s conflict-sensitive approach, such as using the scenario analysis tool, enabled the backstopping to gain a greater appreciation of the challenges that female and male gender champions in police institutions are facing, as well as a deeper understanding of the conditions necessary for institutional change towards gender equality. This information would later influence the gender equality strategy contemplated for the 2018-2022 SDC programme of support to the government of Honduras.

Takeaways from 2017 backstopping:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


  1. Include in the backstopping team local relevant expertise when advising justice and security sector partners towards greater compliance with gender equality principles. This means incorporating gender equality into the methodology from the design, including when planning for a conflict-sensitive approach.
  2. When applying a ToC framework to similar backstopping support, HRBA and gender equality principles need to be framed as solutions to insecurity rather than adherence to an obligatory institutional check list process. This narrative should also influence the conflict-sensitive approach.
  3. Consultations with national counterparts should be continuous in the backstopping methodology to ensure the promotion of gender equality is informed and driven by the beneficiaries but also to ensure that no harm is done in the process.

1Specifically, 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). 

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