WIIS Brussels ran an EU-funded project to develop guidelines to improve the participation of women in the criminal justice response to terrorism.
Time goes by but things remain the same: women are still a minority in the fight against terrorism.
The report of the Women in CT project adresses this hitherto understudied topic, providing guidelines for all and any counterterrorism stakeholder to include gender aspect in their activities – based on research, workshops and interviews with experts across Europe, Africa, the Middle-East and Asia.
Despite a severe lack of consolidated data on women in counterterrorism, the report identifies a glaringly obvious diversity deficit in key CT positions (law enforcement, judiciary, armed forces or policymaking). Barriers range from regulatory, economic and socio-cultural to organisational, structural and systemic. Counterterrorism suffers from a smaller pipeline of female candidates in comparison to their male counterparts, and women’s representativeness dwindles over time, with fewer women than men in senior positions. Gender promotional policies can lead to pigeonholing (e.g., restricting women to specific tasks based on their gender) or perceived as a donor-driven agenda.
The report features a number of recommendations to restore gender balance in CT and CJR. These include demonstrating the operational added-value of women in the field to operational, strategic and political stakeholders, allocating resources to produce detailed and harmonised data on women in CT organisations, developing tailored solutions according to the geographical and other specificities, and taking into account practical details such as infrastructure and equipment adapted for women. These recommendations include the deployment of awareness raising and recruitment campaigns to generate pools of female candidates, the creation of informal women’s’ networks in the field and the development of in-house trainings and mentoring structures to support women’s career develop in CT. a pool of female experts to these key positions, the creation of informal women networks in the field as well as the development of in-house trainings and mentoring structures to support women’s career development in CT fields.
The guidelines will give practitioners step-by-step instructions on how to include women in capacity-building projects and reflect on said projects’ impact on women. A « gender-by-design » approach covers major project phases and offers input into gender-specific key performance indicators, risk management and communications. They are illustrated with concrete examples of successful initiatives from around the world and female role models from the sector. Examples of best practices cover the adaptation of work culture through tailored action plans, specific preparation courses for female candidates to entrance exams, programmes to develop female staff’s management skills, or the use of pop culture to promote female role models and normalise the presence of women in the field.
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