In March 2015, the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, in collaboration with SaferWorld, began a pilot research study looking into community perceptions on the role of women in Yemen’s police force. The research has involved focus group discussions with community members at the grassroots level, as well as community leaders identified through local CSOs, who have selected men and women participants from across the spectrum of socio-economic, professional, educational and age backgrounds.
The purpose of this research is to provide a deeper, contextualized understanding of social attitudes towards women’s participation in the Yemeni police force, as well as community perceptions of women’s security issues in Yemen. While benefiting from the quantitative data previous studies have already collected on this topic, this research is piloting a new methodological approach to explore the issue of women and security in Yemen, and aims to unpack many of the assumptions and potential biases behind public attitudes and actions regarding such. This pilot study will help identify appropriate ways for undertaking further research in this area, in addition to potential entry points for programming regarding women and policing.
The focus groups are meant to answer questions regarding perceptions, customs and social expectations towards women recruitment into the police force, the roles communities would currently accept to see women in the police force fulfilling, as well as the extent to which policewomen could change how communities interact with the police force. This includes identifying women-specific security issues and barriers women in the police force face.
Results from the study will help provide an in-depth understanding of the barriers and entry points, at a community level, to women playing a greater role in the police force. The study will further illuminate the reasons behind why people may, or may not, support women in policing and how communities feel they would benefit from women police officers. The findings of this pilot study will be released in a final report at the conclusion of the research.