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Tool 5: Places of Deprivation of Liberty and Gender



This Tool is part of the DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN Women Gender and Security Toolkit, which comprises nine Tools and a series of Policy Briefs.

Places of deprivation of liberty have typically been created to maintain a secure environment to hold individuals separate from the general population. Policies to uphold human rights, improve rehabilitation efforts or contribute towards strengthening mental health have only come afterwards, if at all. The physical infrastructure, policies and practices have traditionally assumed that those held within places of deprivation of liberty are a homogeneous group of heterosexual adult males from the most prevalent ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region. Where efforts have been made to improve conditions or meet needs, there has been an additional assumption that treating everyone the same means that everyone has been treated equally. However, there is a growing acknowledgement that different groups of people deprived of their liberty have different needs, and therefore justice reforms are needed to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect.

This Tool reflects on new and emerging good practices in integrating a gender perpective in places of deprivation of liberty, how successes in increasing gender equality have been achieved, and persistent challenges.

This Tool is designed to be used by all actors working in connection with people who have been deprived of their liberty.These include policy-makers, legislators, institutional managers, front-line staff, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others. The main focus of the Tool is related to deprivation of liberty within criminal justice facilities, although much of the content presented here may also be relevant to the deprivation of liberty in other settings, such as administrative detention, military detention centres, immigration centres and refugee camps.


This Tool:

- sets out in more detail why integrating a gender perspective is important in places of deprivation of liberty, covering with key definitions related to the topic, including discussion of non-binary understandings of gender and the importance of understanding intersectionality. It also highlights how integrating a gender perspective can help places of deprivation of liberty to achieve their goals, as well as to have a positive effect beyond their own institutions.
- provides a vision of what places of deprivation of liberty would look like if they successfully integrated a gender perspective into their policies and practices. This can be used to evoke and inspire change in places of deprivation of liberty.
- offers some specific steps that can be taken to integrate a gender perspective effectively within places of deprivation of liberty. While no country has completely integrated a gender perspective across all aspects of places of deprivation of liberty, there are increasing examples of pockets of good practice from across the globe.
- provides a sample checklist that can be adapted by places of deprivation of liberty or monitoring bodies to assess integration of a gender perspective.
- lists other useful resources.


Graziella Pavone, OSCE/ODIHR