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Mentorship initiative empowers women in policing in The Gambia


Since the launch of a comprehensive security sector reform process in 2017, The Gambia has achieved several important milestones. The country’s first National Security Policy was issued in 2019, and a National Security Strategy and a Security Sector Reform Strategy were adopted in 2020. 

DCAF has been engaged in supporting The Gambia since the beginning of the security sector reform process in 2017. Funded by the European Union and Switzerland, our programme focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of security sector institutions – notably the Gambia Police Force (GPF) and Gambia Immigration Department – and their accountability through strengthening the role of oversight institutions. 

A critical milestone was to assist the Gambian Police Force in developing its first-ever Police Doctrine that articulates a new vision for policing and reflects international standards such as leadership training and intelligence-led policing. 

In 2022, the Doctrine was officially adopted by the GPF’s leadership and is now enshrined in the force’s basic training curriculum and several security-related tools and manuals developed by national authorities.  Gender mainstreaming is likewise a critical component of the Doctrine.

Presentation of the Gender Policy to the Inspector General of Police. Photo: DCAF

Between March and June 2023, to support the implementation of the Doctrine and gender mainstreaming efforts more broadly, a mentoring scheme was initiated. It connected female police and immigration officers in The Gambia with experienced counterparts from the Thames Valley Police, in the UK, to build exchanges and address gender disparities within the police sector.

 The mentoring scheme revealed the great capabilities of women in the GPF, despite the challenges we face, it boosted my self-confidence and ignited a strong desire to take on more challenges, especially in leadership roles. This programme has not just mentored us; it has empowered us to break barriers and contribute significantly to the progress of our force.
- Deputy Superintendent of Police Fatoumatta Touray, Officer Commanding Prosecution and Legal Affairs Unit, Police HQ

Over the three months, a total of 18 GPF officers and Gambia Immigration Department officers met for a series of mentorship sessions on career progression, conflict management, and challenges faced by female officers through online forums.

Pairing mentors and mentees required a lot of attention to ensure participants’ compatibility and that each of them gain valuable insights from the mentoring. 

UK mentors gained insights into the unique perspectives and difficulties faced by female officers in The Gambia, while the mentees reported enhanced leadership, communication, public speaking, and problem-solving skills. 

I have gained greater confidence in myself and am motivated to serve with dedication and take on leadership roles thanks to the mentoring scheme. It has truly inspired me and boosted my confidence as a female police officer. The mentorship has motivated me to excel and serve as a female police officer with even greater dedication.
- Assistant Superintendent of Police Mary Sibi Jatta 

DCAF has supported the Gambia Police Force Female Network to build the capacity of
its members to take up leadership roles. Photo: DCAF

In parallel to the mentoring initiative, DCAF also supported the Inspector General of Police in developing its first-ever gender mainstreaming policy. Coupled with leadership training and the mentorship scheme, this policy significantly complements the promotion and appointment of female officers within the police into higher ranks and positions of responsibility.

The appointment of the first-ever female Head of Police Operations at GPF headquarters, the selection of the first female Head of Public Relations, and the appointment of female officers to operational command positions represent notable examples. These appointments demonstrate a new culture within the police that empowers female officers and promotes inclusivity. 

Through the training and capacity building activities with DCAF, I am able to efficiently undertake my role as Chief of Operations Bundung Police Division.
- Chief Superintendent Gass Sabally. 

These initiatives are strong steps towards achieving broader gender equality within security institutions. The mentoring initiative has shown how collaboration and mentorship foster gender equality, and as a result, strengthen the police institution as a whole by ensuring a more diverse, inclusive and representative range of personnel at all levels.

We are continuing to help build a strong foundation for an inclusive and accountable security sector in the Gambia. For further information – please visit: