Policing Support and the Jordanian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security
February 2019 saw the launch of the implementation of Jordan’s National Action Plan (JONAP) on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The first pillar of JONAP directs the Government of Jordan, its international partners and civil society organisations to ensure that their programming is gender responsive and supports the “active participation of women in the security sector and peacekeeping missions.”
Siren, in consortium with Ark Group DMCC, has been operating a Policing Support Team in Jordan since 2017, working with the Public Security Directorate (PSD) and Gendarmerie Forces to enhance their capacity to prevent and respond to critical security incidents.
Our programming takes a three-track approach in responding to this directive: supporting women to take on operational roles within the Gendarmerie; supporting the placement of women in roles that enhance their visibility and authority within the police and communities; supporting greater awareness of gender mainstreaming principles and practices within our partner security agencies.
Supporting Women to Take On Operational Roles within the Gendarmerie
Women account for approximately 1.5 percent of the Gendarmerie, and the majority of those women occupy office-based roles (Nama Strategic Intelligence, 2017). In addition to the under-representation of women in the Gendarmerie, other obstacles to their placement in operational roles exist. These include a male lack of confidence in the capabilities of women Gendarmes and a relative lack of training and career development opportunities for women.
Nevertheless, the importance of incorporating women on operations is widely recognised within the Gendarmerie, particularly given that cultural norms in Jordan proscribe male security officers from searching female suspects, or premises occupied only by female residents.
Since September 2018 we have trained 40 women on tactical search and firearms skills. In November 2018, we also took 16 of these women and three senior commanders on a study visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On the trip they viewed how men and women are being integrated in operational settings within the RCMP, and reflected on how this might be applied in Jordan. Based on a competency assessment of all the participants, the ten top-performing women also undertook our mixed gender tactical medic training in February 2019.
The provision of tactical training for women is an important measure that not only increases women Gendarmes’ operational capabilities but also increases the confidence of their male colleagues in them. In focus groups we conducted with 14 male Gendarmes and five female Gendarmes, we found that men lack confidence in their female colleagues in operational settings not because they are women, but because they are aware that their female counterparts receive fewer training opportunities. Mixed training, such as the Tactical Medic courses that we carried out, was recommended by the focus group participants as a particularly effective way of building operational confidence between men and women. Through such courses, both parties see first-hand the capabilities of the other.
Even when women Gendarmes are assigned to administrative posts, it is possible to build their capacity to support security operations that arise in response to critical incidents.
In this regard we have put 89 women Gendarmes (approximately 25 percent of the whole female force in the Gendarmerie) through our “Stay Safe” training course. The course introduces a set of guiding principles that unarmed or off-duty Gendarmes can draw upon should they find themselves in a situation involving an active shooter. The principles help these Gendarmes to act as the eyes and ears of the commander responding to the incident by providing relevant information, such as: the number of people involved (civilians and suspects), the type of weapon being used, the locality of the suspects and their direction of travel. They can also help get civilians out of the ‘hot zone’ of active fire and into cover.
Supporting the Placement of Women in Roles that Enhance their Visibility and Authority
Our second track for supporting the active participation of women in the security sector and in peacekeeping operations centres around enhancing their visibility and authority both within local communities and the Public Security Directorate.
In 2018, we trained a total of ten new trainers in Community Policing. Two of the new trainers are women, meaning that the percentage of women trained by Ark-Siren as Community Police trainers (20 percent) is greater than the percentage of women in the Public Security Directorate (8 percent). As trainers, they will deliver courses in Community Policing to their male and female colleagues, acting as role models and encouraging other women to take up a training role. The importance of this approach has been affirmed by the Director of the PSD’s Women’s Police Department, Colonel Khalida Al Twal, who in January 2019 committed to increase the number of women trained as Community Police trainers and made an official request at the headquarter level to this end.
Women police officers with highly developed knowledge and skills in the areas of community policing, community engagement and training are better able to meet the eligibility criteria required for enrolment in oversees peacekeeping missions. Since completing our Community Policing training of trainer programme in January 2019, Warrant Officer Omama Al Hshoush has subsequently been selected by the PSD to participate as a UNMIS Community Police Trainer on an 18-month UN peacekeeping mission to Sudan. Similarly, First Lieutenant Abeer Mohammad, who completed a prior iteration of this programme that was developed and delivered by Siren for Jordan’s Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate, was also deployed with UNMIS to Sudan as the Head of Community Police Training in late 2017.
At the community level, Ark-Siren has been working with 17 youth volunteers, or ‘Community Champions’, at the Al Aman community based organisation in Russeifah, 20km northeast of Amman. We have been providing skills training in problem solving, conflict resolution and communications to the Community Champions so that they have the confidence and ability to conduct workshops and awareness raising sessions for their peers on important local issues relating to social cohesion and community safety. For example, in February 2019 the Community Champions designed and delivered awareness raising sessions on harassment to 600 students in Russeiafh and its environs.
Importantly, seven of the seventeen Community Champions are women. That 41 percent of the Community Champions are women means the team is ready to identify and address sensitive issues that can only be raised in-private between women. The establishment of a Police-Youth Committee in March 2019 will also serve as a mechanism through which these issues can be communicated and referred to the Community Police, should young women feel more comfortable working through a female peer from the Community Champion team.
Supporting Greater Awareness of Gender Mainstreaming Principles and Practices
As a minimum standard for the application of gender mainstreaming principles across our programming, we set a requirement for women to be included in each type of activity, and for our Monitoring and Evaluation indicators to be disaggregated by gender.
Beyond this, we undertook several awareness raising measures that must be further built upon in order to help bring about more systemic change in the organisational culture of the Gendarmerie and PSD in terms of women’s participation.
We held eight gender awareness workshops for the Gendarmerie. In each workshop we introduced a range of gender and diversity concepts, gave participants an opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of integrating gender into the Gendarmerie’s policies and practices, and examined the implications of UNSCR 1325 for Jordan’s security agencies.
A total of 335 Gendarmes participated in the workshops, and the rate of women’s participation was high (11 percent), relative to the overall rate of women’s participation in the Gendarmerie (1.5 percent). Whist Jordanian society is characterised by a high degree of social/religious conservatism, and gender as a theme will always stimulate discussion and debate among the participants of any workshop, a number of entry points for further work emerged.
Participants recommended the engagement of a gender focal point from the Gendarmerie in order to ensure organisational ownership and demonstrate the commitment of the senior leadership to gender mainstreaming. In response, the Gendarmerie’s Assistant to the General Director for Operations appointed Captain Ghada Khreisat as the Gendarmerie’s focal point for gender. Captain Ghada will be responsible for participating in all internal and external discussions relating to women’s inclusion, especially around the implementation of UNSCR 1325. The Gender Focal Point role is still in its early stages of development and so there is an opportunity to support its growth.
The participants also recommended providing similar workshops to different target groups, both within the Gendarmerie and within local communities. Within the Gendarmerie, the workshops should target mid- to senior-ranked officers who are responsible for setting the Gendarmerie’s processes and procedures. They should also target members of the Media and Public Relations departments so that Gendarmerie publications promote and normalise gender mainstreaming and the inclusion of women in operational roles. Within local communities, workshops should target school and university students so that gender mainstreaming concepts are well understood from a young age and to encourage community members to support their female friends and relatives who may wish to join the security sector and/or take on operational roles.
In relation to our work with Gendarmerie Unit 21 around the use of intelligence in the protection of key sites and sensitive premises, we held an intelligence orientation seminar for eight women Gendarmes (six of the women were from the Information and Security Affairs Department and the remaining two were from the Communications Department). The seminar included a session on the benefits of integrating women in intelligence and investigations work. The participants, particularly those from the Information and Security Affairs Department, expressed a desire to play an active role in the intelligence functions of the Gendarmerie, and requested holistic and thorough training in this area. This is an idea that could be raised with the Gendarmerie’s Gender Focal Point for further development.
Within the Community Policing component of our work, we included a one-day training session on gender and diversity within the training programme that we passed on to the ten new Community Police trainers. They will henceforth deliver this session to their colleagues in the PSD as an essential and component part of their broader Community Policing training package.