European Union External Action

Women’s leadership at the forefront of the civilian CSDP Missions

08/03/2021 - 11:06
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Police and rule of law organisations need to reflect in their composition the populations they serve. This applies also to the 11 civilian CSDP Missions, deployed by the European Union to advise and train partner countries’ security services in Africa, the Middle East and the European neighbourhood. By increasing the representation of women among the leadership and international experts, the CSDP Missions can lead by example.

Anu Aro is Head of EUCAP Somalia’s Police Unit

Gender equality is a political objective and priority of the European Union, and gender balance is a long-standing commitment in civilian CSDP Missions. There are also operational advantages to increase the number of women among international experts in Missions: they are role models in their daily interaction as trainers or advisers to local counterparts and interlocutors.

Local security services such as police need to reflect in their composition the populations they serve. A sufficient number of women is thus a precondition for any successful modern police service. This applies naturally also to our partner countries. Present on the ground, CSDP Missions work proactively to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

One of the women that currently serve in a key position in a Mission is Detective Superintendent Anu Aro, Head of the Police Unit of the EU Capacity Building Mission in Somalia. She knows how challenging police work can be in many countries.  Anu has over 29 years’ experience in policing with the Finnish Police Service, with 13 of those years at supervisor level.  She has also served in international missions in police advisor roles, for example with the EU in Afghanistan and with the UN in Liberia.

In her current role she leads a team of police experts from multiple EU countries, who are supporting the Somali Police Service on police development.  She says professional development, awareness of the law, and good public outreach, are key, so that police can be trusted and respected by communities. She also highlights that recruiting more women is vital to build trust and improve community partnerships.

It is important to have both male and female police officers working together side by side and respecting each other as professionals. It increases effectiveness and professionalism in policing and can also improve approaches to addressing sexual and gender-based violence,” says Anu Aro, head of EUCAP Somalia’s Police Unit.

Dedicated mentoring programme for women leaders in the civilian Missions

Achieving gender-balanced teams in the CSDP Missions is still a challenge and more women are needed, in particular in operational and management positions. With the current overall ratio at 24% and even lower (20%) in operational and management functions, there is still some way to go. One of the recent efforts to enhance women’s leadership in civilian CSDP is a dedicated women’s mentoring programme launched first of March. It is a pilot mentoring programme offered to international personnel in civilian CSDP Missions. Developed by the European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management in close collaboration with the CPCC, the operational headquarter of the currently 11 civilian CSDP Missions and the civilian EU Monitoring Mission Georgia.