European Union External Action

Safety and security for all, including women – a priority and a challenge for EUBAM Libya

07/10/2019 - 16:54
News stories

Women’s participation in the security and justice sectors improves operational effectiveness, reduces corruption, diminishes sexual exploitation and abuse, increases accountability, improves accessibility and strengthens trust between authorities and civilians.

 

Border management becomes more effective when female staff are equally trained and operational – a case that is made most evident by the simple example of male border authorities being unable to carry out body searches on women in countries where cultural norms prevent this. Similarly, investigations, analyses and witness testimonies by police authorities are rendered more comprehensive with the participation of female staff, opening the window wider for stronger trust in the police. Women’s participation in the judiciary and in the police force correlates directly with increased reporting of crimes, including sexual and gender based crimes. Access to justice and the likelihood for a free and fair trial are improved where women act as judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers, while a more representative judiciary fosters greater trust in the overall justice system.

 

“The establishment of the Office (Women’s Affairs of the Ministry of Interior) is an important step on increasing women in policing – therefore we need support from the International Community to build capacity.” Ms. Zinab Mhadab, Head of Women’s Affairs Office, MOI. February 2019

 EUBAM Libya promotes a gender inclusive and responsive approach to planning, policy development, staffing, operational implementation, monitoring and evaluation. A strong priority is to communicate the added value of such an approach to our partners: women’s participation across the security sector from border management to policing to justice and the rule of law increases operational effectiveness and produces more sustainable long-term results.

The Mission has strived to encourage a positive shift in this regard by underlining this importance at every opportunity. It requests of implementing partners to provide female trainers wherever possible; requests of its Libyan partners to support women’s participation in all trainings, and strives to ensure gender analysis and considerations contribute to all trainings and meetings. Thematic gender analyses being prepared by EUBAM on law enforcement, criminal justice and border management in Libya will contribute to these objectives. This kind of a gender inclusive and responsive approach to its mandate implementation supports the Mission to operate on a do no harm basis that strives to consider human rights first and foremost.

Across the three operational focus areas of EUBAM Libya – border management, law enforcement, and criminal justice – women have very limited representation and barely participate. Nevertheless, EUBAM Libya has managed to push for stronger consideration and implementation of at least a more gender sensitive approach.

Within the criminal justice sector, this has been most successful – partially thanks to the fact that it is the sector with most professionally active women. EUBAM has run a total of three trainings for the judicial police (prison guards), with the last being a training of trainers that was dedicated specifically to the topic of treatment of women prisoners, juveniles and those in pre-trial detention. Participants have included women and men, with strong discussions and joint gender analysis sparking new ideas for best practices, particularly on the topic of women in prison. Next, EUBAM has taken steps to engage with female judges, prosecutors, and defence lawyers from across Libya.

On the law enforcement side, especially as regards policing, EUBAM organised the first international roundtable discussion with the newly established Women’s Affairs Office at the Ministry of Interior, as well as the Ministry’s Family and Child Protection, and Human Rights Offices. The discussion focused on the critical importance of women’s participation to the effectiveness and credibility of policing in Libya. To this end, EUBAM has encouraged the Ministry to strengthen efforts to train and recruit female officers, and supports this objective notably through its work on the UNDP-UNSMIL Pilot Model Police Station project. EUBAM was instrumental in ensuring dedicated expertise for priorities such as SGBV crimes and victim support in the Police Station staff descriptions. EUBAM is tentatively beginning to explore options for stronger gender analysis in its support to the Libyan National Team for Counter Terrorism, while it is already doing so in its support to the Anti-Narcotics General Administration and the Organised Crime Coordination Panel.

As regards integrated border management, the Mission seeks to address promote the participation of women as a cross-cutting priority in its institutional support provided to border management agencies, particularly on trainings, and operational concepts. A clear example was the training material for a recent joint EUBAM-FRONTEX-Italy training to the General Administration of Coastal Security (GACS) that included gender inclusive and responsive language and provisions, while the training itself involved many practical exercises that highlighted gender considerations, particularly a simulation of a search and rescue operation where the trainees were to rescue a severely traumatised woman. The exercise resulted in many of the trainees themselves realising that their work would be much more effective if they had female colleagues alongside them. Generally, when it comes to all land and sea border support, especially the South and Western borders, gender analysis and inclusive community engagement must be integral to the planning and assessment process – a fact recognized by the National Team for Border Security and Managements, who requested further training to this end.  

Internally, EUBAM has already seen a positive shift, with the establishment of a gender focal points system and a Mission Gender Action Plan acting as strong mechanisms to include gender mainstreaming as an automatic and necessary reflex in every strategic and operational activity.

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FACTBOX

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EUBAM Libya’s approach to gender mainstreaming is guided by the EU Strategy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; the European Union Comprehensive Approach to the Implementation of UNSCR 1325; the EU Gender Action Plan for 2016-2020; the Report on the Baseline Study on Integrating Human Rights and Gender into the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy; and the CSDP Civilian Operations Commander’s Operational Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in Missions.