The Women Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in October 2017, highlights the role of the United States and the Department of State in particular in promoting the “meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution.” This Act enshrines the pivotal role women and girls play in promoting stable and lasting peace and security, both at home and abroad. Due to INL’s longstanding relationship with criminal justice professionals worldwide, the Bureau is able to make significant contributions to fulfilling the goals of the Act.
INL’s work advances women’s full participation in criminal justice professions abroad. Increasing the participation of women as criminal justice practitioners bolsters the effectiveness of the system. For example, increasing numbers of women police strengthens understanding of and response to crime in a given community and builds trust among women in that community. Research has shown a positive correlation between the percent of women in a given police force and the reporting of crimes, including sexual assault and domestic violence. Increasing the number of women police can also strengthen efforts to counter violent extremism. To cite one example, in certain societies women police alone can conduct searches of women and thereby potentially prevent armed extremists from avoiding screening. In addition, female law enforcement may have access to other segments of the community open only to women.
INL creates opportunities for women by providing hands-on training, offering study visits, and promoting connections with international organizations. INL’s International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) have trained over 11,000 female criminal justice officials from more than 100 countries. INL also supports the participation of women police and judges from a variety of partner countries in national and international conferences that bring together women police or judges to discuss substantive legal issues and common challenges facing women practitioners.
Increasing numbers of women in criminal justice professions is just one way INL helps partner governments improve their responses to sexual and gender-based violence. INL provides legal aid and holistic support for survivors. INL also works to improve the efficiency and transparency of courts to strengthen access to justice for men, women, boys, and girls.
INL employs a dedicated gender advisor to promote and support integration of women and their perspectives into INL programs. The INL Guide to Gender in the Criminal Justice System offers guidance on integrating women’s perspectives into police, justice sector, and corrections programming. Before they are deployed, many U.S. advisors are trained on the importance of promoting women practitioners in the criminal justice system and strengthening justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. INL also disseminates these best practices with U.S.-based state and local partners across the criminal justice system.