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Senegal: ICITAP Discusses Advantages of Including Women in Operational Roles with Head of Operational Logistics for National Gendarmerie

On February 21, a Program Officer from ICITAP’s Engaging Multinational Policewomen on Equality and Rights (EMPoWER) visited the High Command of the National Gendarmerie to discuss efforts to integrate female officers into surveillance and investigations units. The PO met with Chief of Operations Logistics for the High Command of the National Gendarmerie (rank of Lieutenant Colonel), who is also a Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (FBINA) graduate. The conversation highlighted the historical progress towards gender-inclusivity in the Gendarmerie, recognizing that this body received its first orders to recruit females in 2006. The LTC shared that despite the recent orders to pursue the “feminization” of the Gendarmerie, there has been general acceptance from male gendarmes for the transition. In addition, women have risen to the positions of Company Commander both outside and within Dakar, which is considered a highly sensitive and critical post for operations. The LTC emphasized that the lack of women in investigations hindered progress, as it limited the ability to pursue issues related to gender-based violence and sexual assault. He commented that males were at a disadvantage when dealing with female targets because they could not easily search the women or collect key evidence.  The LTC expressed his hope that women would become more involved in intelligence-gathering units but recognized that recruitment efforts needed to ramp up to make this a reality. Intelligence skills are currently in high demand at the Gendarmerie as Senegal seeks to modernize its forces to take a more proactive approach to dealing with criminal activity. However, the lack of training in the collection of human intelligence and surveillance creates a challenge for the recruitment of females to critical units. Currently, efforts to recruit women are mostly internal to the Gendarmerie, leading to the movement of female officers and gendarmes from one post to another. While this helps increase the number of women in target units, it does not lead to an overall increase in female representation across the Gendarmerie. To aid in bridging this resource gap, the EMPoWER program could pursue the training of female gendarmes on topics related to counterterrorism while at the same time advising the High Command on strategies to increase external recruitment. The EMPoWER program looks forward to assisting the Senegalese National Gendarmerie in the professionalization of its forces.

Updated July 17, 2023