16 November 2011
ACCRA, GHANA - The Africa Security Sector Network (ASSN) has commissioned a baseline study to aimed at providing evidence-based information on the status of Gender mainstreaming at the national level, as part of the ASSN's effort to support the operationalisation of the African Union Security Sector Reform (AU SSR) Policy Framework.
The decision to undertake this baseline study was informed by the fact that efforts in Africa to integrate Gender and women's rights perspectives into Security and Justice Sector Reform are largely undocumented and unreported.
The baseline study will build upon existing Gender assessments and surveys of security sector institutions to provide information that is relevant for programming and subsequent impact assessments of Gender initiatives within security and justice sector reform programmes. On 15-16 November 2011, the ASSN organised a two-day Theory of Change (TOC) workshop in Accra, Ghana, as the first step towards developing the overarching research questions for the baseline study, as well as to guide the research questionnaires and provide advice to the consultants who will be undertaking the research.
The workshop had 14 participants from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. These included representatives from the International Crisis Group (ICG), the Ghana Police Service, WIPSEN-Africa, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Ghana Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) and ASSN programme staff.
There were three main objectives for the workshop:
· To understand the rationale for promoting Gender in SSR and the assumptions implicit within this;
· To engage the country research-leads and ensure a common understanding of the context and rationale for the study;
· To develop a set of overarching research questions to frame the baseline study.
The workshop was not intended to in detail develop possible interventions or policy objectives, though these aspects were discussed as part of the overall process. With the engagement objective in mind, the proceedings were highly participatory. There were very few short presentations by the facilitators and the majority of work was done by the participants in small groups. The participants were mixed around as much as possible to ensure that they were all exposed to a range of opinions from different stakeholders.
The activities undertaken during the workshop encouraged participants to think about Gender and SSR in the broader social, political and economic context. The workshop was structured to enable them think holistically about all dimensions of the problem, progressively narrow the focus to areas of likely intervention and identify the specific indicators or behaviours that the researchers could assess during the baseline study.
Through a range of exercises, the workshop led participants to:
·Reach a common understanding of Gender and SSR;
·Agree on a vision for Gender and SSR;
·Define what needs to happen for this vision to be realised ;
·Identify what the ASSN can do to bring about change and how this will contribute to the overall vision ;
·Outline some indicators of change;
·Determine some key research questions for the baseline study.
The baseline study is currently being undertaken in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
Related article: Dialogue on Challenges facing Gender Mainstreaming in African Security Institutions