UNODC works to increase the role of women in Sahelian defence and security forces


UNODC in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the G5 Sahel organized in March 2021 a two-day workshop in Nouakchott, Mauritania on increasing the participation of women in security operations in the Sahel. The workshop, funded by the Danish Sahel Regional Peace and Stabilisation Programme, aimed to ensure that G5 Sahel security and defense forces were better capacitated to address the peace and security concerns of local populations through increased number of women in the forces, including in leadership roles.  

25 participants, including 8 women, participated, from the police, and national armies of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, as well as from the forces of the G5-Sahel.

Discussions identified the major challenges to increase the participation of women in the field and in positions of high responsibility. The workshop addressed unconscious or conscious gender prejudices, selection criteria for competitive examinations and recruitment, and the reluctance of families and communities in having their daughters wearing the uniform.

“Gender equality is equal access in terms of visibility, power, responsibility and participation of both genders in all public or private spheres of life. The aim of gender mainstreaming is to take advantage of the differences and use them constructively for the benefit of the whole society.”

Wénéssamdé (Alice) NANA, Police Commissioner, Head of the Immigration Service, Migration Division, Directorate of State Security, Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO


“I have 60% female staff in my service, including two female chiefs coming with their young children. This is my own ad-hoc decision but can it be institutionalised?”

Mohamed LY, Colonel, Director of Human Resources of the Armed Forces, Bamako, MALI

Final recommendations from the workshop included developing national and regional gender plans, ensuring wide dissemination of gender analysis tools, improving recruitment procedures, encouraging career development for women in uniform, and creating a communication strategy that values the key contribution of women to the security forces and reassures families of their fears.