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UN police gender initiatives

Gender initiatives

Increasing the number of female police officers

The United Nations ensures gender-sensitive policing throughout the work of United Nations Police as an operational necessity to address the differentiated security needs of women, men, girls and boys.

The participation of female police officers is critical for the full spectrum of United Nations Police activities, such as the promotion of rule of law, intelligence, planning, leadership, investigations, public order management, capacity-building of host-State police, community-oriented policing, gender awareness raising and engaging communities.

In addition, female police officers act as role models for gender equality, inspiring women and girls to advocate for their own rights and pursue careers in law enforcement. Female police officers, moreover, provide a greater sense of security to women and children and improve access and support from law enforcement agencies to local women. They also help the United Nations address and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.

In 2009, the United Nations launched an effort to increase the number of female police officers deployed with the United Nations. As a result, the number of female officers increased from about 900 (seven percent of 12,000 police) to 1,300 officers (ten percent of 13,000) in 2016. Yet, more needs to be done. The goal was reaffirmed through Security Council Resolution 2242 (2015), which mandates the United Nations to double its female police representation by 2020.

Eight Security Council resolutions on "Women, Peace and Security" 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015), 2467 (2019), and 2493 (2019) highlight the differential impact of conflict on women, men, boys and girls and therefore the necessity to mainstream gender perspectives into peacekeeping. Furthermore, Security Council resolution 2185 (2014) on policing in peacekeeping emphasized the promotion of gender equality as part of a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and sustainable peace.

Increasing the representation of female police peacekeepers (gender balance)

A police service that is representative of the population helps restore trust and confidence in the police, especially from women and children, as the police institution is reformed, restructured and rebuilt.

In August 2009, the United Nations launched the ‘Global Effort’ and has worked with Member States and national police services since to recruit more female police officers into UN police operations around the world.

The ‘Global Effort’ initiative’ calls on United Nations Member States to:

  • Establish a policy that sets the percentage of their contribution of female police officers on a par with their national police gender ratio;
  • Review their recruitment requirements and procedures for international deployment to ensure that female candidates are not restricted from applying; and;
  • Consider providing incentives for officers who serve in peacekeeping missions.

Implementing the ‘Global Effort’

Working closely with member states, specific trainings were designed, funded and implemented to increase the number of female officers eligible for deployment as United Nations Police officer.

One initiative, led by the United Nations Police Division, is the all-female selection assistance and assessment team (SAAT) training. Since 2014 the training familiarises and prepares female police officers with the assessment procedures they require to pass before deploying as United Nations Police. Trainings took place in Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Niger, Rwanda and Togo. As of August 2016, 333 passed the UN examination and are eligible to deploy and 210 female officers already deployed with United Nations Police in peacekeeping operations as a result of the training.

In parallel, Member States have made efforts to increase the deployment of female police officers, in order to respond to the demand in peacekeeping operations. For example, India, Bangladesh and Rwanda pledged and subsequently deployed all-female formed police units (FPUs) of approximately 140 officers. FPUs are trained and equipped to operate as cohesive unit for public order management, among others policing tasks and duties. These units served in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Based on the experience with female officers in formed police units, which significantly enhanced the operational effectiveness, United Nations Police is prioritizing mixed-gender units, which have been identified as good practice, for deployment that include at least 32 female officers (one platoon).

Mainstreaming gender-sensitive policing

United Nations Police integrates the different concerns and vulnerabilities of women, men, boys and girls into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all police activities.

The Police Division provides a coherent and standardised approach to gender mainstream­ing by integration best practices and standards into the police-specific United Nations policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures, based on the Strategic Guidance Framework (SGF) for International Police Peacekeeping, the DPO/DFS Policy on Gender Equality in UN Peacekeeping Operations (2010) and the DPO/ DFS Gender Forward Looking Strategy (2014-2018).

United Nations police officers in peace operations work closely with the national police to build the capacity of the host State police, and mainstream gender-sensitive policing, tailored to the specific national and local context and security needs.

Gender focal points in UN peace operations exchange best practices and experiences through the Gender focal point network.

United Nations Police Gender toolkit

In 2015, the United Nations Police Gender Toolkit was formally adopted as a compilation of training materials with standardised best practices on gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping.

The toolkit is a complete training package consisting of an openly accessible e-learning course, an in-person training-of-trainers curriculum, a handbook and a compendium of project tools. The kit also includes a basic and advanced course with the following specialisations, including assisting the host State police in developing, implementing and monitoring a policy on equal opportunities, and preventing and investigating sexual and gender-based violence.

United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year Award

The Annual United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year Award, created in 2011, is presented to a currently serving woman police officer in a United Nations peace operation who distinguishes herself through exemplary conduct and achievements in more than one area of policing that has a significant and meaningful impact on her area of responsibility. It further highlights the contributions of women police officers in United Nations peace operations and encourages the Member States to deploy more female police officers for United Nations service. Read more about this year's award recipient on UNPOL News.

Awareness raising and advocacy

To better implement the gender mainstreaming activities, obtain much-needed extra budgetary funding and to raise awareness of the work and dedication of female police peacekeepers, United Nations Police and the International Network of Female Police Peacekeepers, conduct several activities, such as dialogue with police contributing countries, outreach to female police associations and information campaigns.