Raising Standards in Private Security Through Greater Gender Diversity


All too often the private security industry is not a welcoming place for women. ICoCA’s research on working conditions in the Private Security Industry indicates that female personnel face significant challenges and continue to experience harassment, abuse, etc., which affects their work lives, their mental and physical health. Gender understanding is often binary and narrowly tailored, and the benefits of gender diversity are unfounded. Women are rarely in positions of leadership, undermining the participatory power of diverse gender identities. Patriarchal tendencies may then reinforce harmful gender dynamics for personnel and civilians.

Arguably lack of diversity has direct implications for the efficacy of private security services and personnel’s respect for human rights during private security operations.

Following these findings, ICoCA launched a new research project on Gender Diversity in the Private Security Industry in partnership with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. This research project aims at addressing the issues related to gender diversity in Private Security Companies (PSCs) such as the barriers in implementing gender diversity, the perpetuation of harassment, abuse and exploitation of female personnel and civilians, and mechanisms that can increase gender diversity while preventing gendered harm and other abuses during private security operations. Its goal is to document current gender integration in private security, explore the links between gender integration/diversity in private security and respect for human rights in private security operations, to identify obstacles, best practices and recommendations.

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