Making female provosts candidates flourish into a “village of capable women” in Mali

Provost: Gendarme integrated in a military battalion’s operations. His or her main missions consist in conducting the first police and judicial operations (gathering intelligence, securing the crime scene, collecting evidence, hearing suspects, witness, and victims) in the military operations zone. He/she is competent for both alleged violations by or against military personnel in the operation zones and for crimes related to terrorism and organized crime in general. In Mali, the Gendarmerie currently deploys provosts only nationally (28 detachments and presence in the security & governance pools).

 
   

Until May 2022, in the pools of provosts - both at regional level with the G5 Sahel and at national level in Mali and in Niger - female gendarmes represented 0%. Obstacles to potential female gendarmes aspiring to become provost in the field of operations are many: familial and marital responsibilities, insecurity of women in conflict-affected operational regions, unsafety of women in a male-dominated and isolated work environment, lack of infrastructure, absence of normative framework on deployment with gender-sensitive lenses, self-censorship, social pressure and gender biases.

 
Communication Day at the  school of Gendamerie in Bamako, April 2022. 100 female gendarmes gathered to talk about the project prevots Sahel with their  leadership: Career, pregnancy, marital & family life, Training, judicialization, sexual abuses, harassment & Conditions of deployment.
 

In this context Dr Amado de Andrés, UNODC Regional Director for West and Central Africa, states that “Women’s lack of representation in provost units poses a major challenge, thus gender inclusion in our security forces is essential”Indeed, it affects strategies, operations, and most importantly the capacity to understand and respond to the needs of communities where women represent more than 50% of the population, creating a communication and protection gap and a lack of community engagement in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. Therefore, when UNODC approached the Malian Gendarmerie to implement the Femmes Prévôts du Sahel project, its leadership was convinced of the added value but feared that no female candidates would apply to the pipeline. In order to prevent the lack of candidates, the Malian Gendarmerie and UNODC collaborated to draft inclusive and non-discriminatory selection criteria as well as to implement a national-wide communication strategy. This ambitious and transparent approach included a written message on the women provost's pipeline from the Direction of the Gendarmerie to announce the initiative to the entire national territory, as well as a communication day at the School of Gendarmerie in Bamako with 100 female gendarmes participating.

As a result, the women provosts pipeline generated high interest. 31 applications were collected, and 19 applicants were pre-selected and invited for an interview. Thus, the 15 female gendarmes were selected based on their skills and motivation to be part of the Femmes Prévôts Pipeline. They gave themselves the nickname “Village of the capable women” while participating in the training and coaching. The project « Femmes prévôts du Sahel » is implemented in Mali and in Niger within the framework of UNODC Sahel Programme, thanks to the contribution of the United Kingdom.

Contact : Cristina Iampieri, Sahel programme Coordinator - iampieri@un.org