Skip to main content


Back to Resources

Tool 5: Places of Deprivation of Liberty and Gender



This Tool is part of the DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN Women Gender and Security Toolkit, which comprises nine Tools and a series of Policy Briefs.

Places of deprivation of liberty have typically been created to maintain a secure environment to hold individuals separate from the general population. Policies to uphold human rights, improve rehabilitation efforts or contribute towards strengthening mental health have only come afterwards, if at all. The physical infrastructure, policies and practices have traditionally assumed that those held within places of deprivation of liberty are a homogeneous group of heterosexual adult males from the most prevalent ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region. Where efforts have been made to improve conditions or meet needs, there has been an additional assumption that treating everyone the same means that everyone has been treated equally. However, there is a growing acknowledgement that different groups of people deprived of their liberty have different needs, and therefore justice reforms are needed to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect.

This Tool reflects on new and emerging good practices in integrating a gender perpective in places of deprivation of liberty, how successes in increasing gender equality have been achieved, and persistent challenges.

This Tool is designed to be used by all actors working in connection with people who have been deprived of their liberty.These include policy-makers, legislators, institutional managers, front-line staff, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others. The main focus of the Tool is related to deprivation of liberty within criminal justice facilities, although much of the content presented here may also be relevant to the deprivation of liberty in other settings, such as administrative detention, military detention centres, immigration centres and refugee camps.


Graziella Pavone, OSCE/ODIHR