A gendered approach to multi-dimensional security

The lack of citizen security constitutes one of the principal threats to stability, democratic governance, and sustainable human development. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the murder rate is double the worldwide average, and in some areas it is five times as high. A region that is home to just 8% of the world's population accounts for 42% of the homicides and 66% of the kidnappings worldwide.

Although citizen insecurity is a problem that affects the entire population, women experience violence, dispossession, trafficking, and other security problems differently than men (UNDP, 2006) — a difference that results mainly from the construction of gendered social roles. As a UNDP Costa Rica report (2006) states, "This is not about a simple quantitative difference, for example, in the number of homicides of men and women, or in who commits them."

However, as Rainero (2006) states, "...it is possible to note that not only public debates about the lack of safety in cities, but also public policies and actions that aim to fight this problem, are based on indicators that reduce violence to criminal typologies that generally exclude violence against women."

The failure to consider the security needs of women, on the one hand, and their absence in the spaces for decision-making and action regarding citizen security, on the other, means that the security policies of the majority of countries in the region ignore more than 50% of the population of these countries. This means in practice that women are less able, and less likely, to approach security-sector bodies about the violence they are suffering.

For more information, download the "Briefing note: A rights-based and gender equality approach to citizen security" (CIM, 2011)