Skip to main content

Gender and Security Sector Reform in West Africa : A Needs Assessment Report



Kristin Valasek



Sierra Leone and Liberia present appropriate and unique case studies for analyzing security sector reform processes in a post-conflict environment. On the one hand, their appropriateness is derived from the fact that both countries have undergone and emerged from protracted civil wars that spanned over a decade. Consequently, the two countries have been confronted with grave security challenges including unprofessional security forces, citizens' lack of confidence in national security institutions, high level of youth unemployment, etc. In their current post-conflict era there is thus a fundamental need to improve the security milieu in order for democracy and development to thrive and it is based upon this that Sierra Leone and Liberia embarked on the reform of their respective security sector. On the other hand, their uniqueness is derived from the differing nature of their SSR experiences.
In 2008, DCAF and WIPSEN jointly conducted a needs assessment exercise to determine the level of knowledge about, and available information on, the gender and security sector reform (GSSR) processes in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The questions raised largely focused on what the biggest threat to the security of people (men, women, boys and girls) is; level of knowledge on, and familiarity with, the concepts of gender and security sector reform; involvement in security sector reform or gender related programmes and policymaking; institutional efforts/initiatives to mainstream gender issues (including addressing gender based violence) or to increase and retain the number of its female personnel.