Strategies to improve security and justice for women and girls: programme experiences from multiple contexts

2 December 2014 17:00 - 19:00 GMT+00
Security and justice programming is increasingly recognising the unique security and justice needs of women and girls and seeking to tailor interventions accordingly. In part, this has been driven by DFID’s corporate target of providing improved access to security and justice to 10 million women and girls by 2015. Similarly, initiatives like the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Girls Summit have highlighted the unacceptable extent of violence against women and girls and our responsibility to act. In light of this, and the importance of providing women and girls with quality security and justice services, this seminar presented the experiences of two implementers in programming in this area.

Chris Walker, Team Leader for the ATOS-managed  Safety and Access to Justice Programme (SAJP) in South Sudan highlighted how the programme worked with the national police to improve their capacity to provide policing services to vulnerable groups, in particular women and children, and to better respond to gender-based violence. Pooja Naidu Kingsley from Coffey International presented experiences from The Peacebuilding Support to the Post Crisis Needs Assessment (PSP) programme in Pakistan. Her presentation highlighted how gender mainstreaming is integrated in the programme and discuss in particular its support to women in policing and how women’s access to security and justice is being increased. These presentations were followed by discussant comments from Dr Nicola Jones, ODI Research Fellow who coordinates the Institute's gender theme, before opening up for wider discussion with a view to understanding how security and justice programming can better meet the needs of women and girls.

About the speakers: 

Chris Walker is a security and justice specialist with a focus on post-conflict and fragile states. He has advised on, designed, implemented and reviewed police reform programmes across Africa, Asia and the Middle East and is a Senior Security and Justice Adviser with the UK Government Stabilisation Unit. Chris recently led the DfID-funded Safety and Access to Justice Project (SAJP) in South Sudan, working with the national police service to improve their capacity to provide policing services, with an emphasis on vulnerable groups and in particular for women and children.

Pooja Naidu Kingsley manages Coffey’s Aitebaar programme in Pakistan, a peacebuilding initiative working with the security and justice institutions to help build their capacity, in order create a more stable environment for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Pooja has previously undertaken work in Afghanistan, Nepal, Tanzania, and Kenya on issues of gender, conflict and peace. Prior to joining Coffey Pooja worked for an African NGO conducting research on sexual violence in conflict. 

This fifth event saw, perhaps, the fullest and most diverse room of the Security and Justice Seminar Series so far.

The evening began with an interesting overview by Chris Walker, Team Leader of the Atos-managed Security and Justice Programme (SAJP) in South Sudan, who described how despite the hysteria and optimism of post-independence, it was clear that gender inequality was rife. In order to challenge gender norms, it was felt, that both the form and function of the security and justice (S&J) apparatus needed to be transformed, and so initial S&J support was centred around introducing model police stations. The principal idea was to get police ‘into the community and work in partnership with the public.’

To expedite this, alongside introducing model police stations, SAJP also attempted to help reform the national policies behind policing to make sure that this significant shift in policing culture had buy-in at the most senior levels. This was intended to promote a strategy that was led by, owned by and wanted by the police. Changes in the function of the police required influencing their standard operating procedures, so SAJP looked at how the police went about their daily business to better understand how they could be improved. For example, how were incidents handled, in particular those reported by vulnerable groups such as women and girls?

While sexual and gender based violence remains rife, and has clearly been exacerbated by the conflict since December 2013, some progress was made, with mechanisms of response to GBV put in place through coordination amongst police, and health, education and social welfare ministries. Despite the relapse into conflict, it was reported that there was some evidence of sustainability of the SAJP interventions, with some operating procedures concerned with addressing SGBV and VAWG enduring into 2014. However, individual police officers (though importantly not the police as an institution) have sadly been implicated in numerous human rights abuses during the conflict and it is clear that reforming the behavior of individual officers will take much longer than the time given to SAJP and probably require much more comprehensive and sensitive approaches.

Particular challenges that were identified included how to meet donors’ immediate need for results given the slow pace of institutional, cultural and behavioural changes in reality. Expectations had to be managed, we heard; especially on the donor side. DFID and the FCO also sometimes seemed at odds with each other with regards to short term and long term S&J policy. As well as donor harmonisation, there needs to be, it was felt, more commitment to long term development programmes that do not rely so heavily on measuring ‘success’ through results based frameworks, but take a more flexible view that recognises the reality of non-linear change patterns, typical in S&J interventions.