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Penal Reform and Gender (Tool 5)

1 January, 2008




1. Introduction

2. What is penal reform?

3. Why is gender important to penal reform?
3.1 For penal institutions to meet human rights standards
3.2 To ensure equitable penal policies that do not discriminate
3.3 To achieve prisoners’ reform rehabilitation
3.4 To promote better public health
3.5 To promote equal treatment and participation of men and women as penal sector staff

4. How can gender be integrated into penal reform?
4.1 Ensure that penal policies are appropriate to both male and female prisoners
4.2 Ensure oversight and complaints mechanisms address gender
4.3 Eliminate discrimination in the way prisons are run
4.4 Ensure prison treatment is appropriate to the particular needs of men and women
4.5 Prevent and respond to gender-based violence in prison
4.6 Ensure access to health care for male and female prisoners
4.7 Meet the needs of pregnant women and mothers of young children
4.8 Ensure appropriate and skilled prison staff
4.9 Engage civil society organisations
4.10 Build public support for penal reform

5. Integrating gender into penal reform in specific contexts
5.1 Post-conflict countries
5.2 Transitional countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
5.3 Developing countries
5.4 Developed countries

6. Key recommendations

7. Additional resources


This tool on penal reform and gender provides guidance on responding to gender issues within penal systems.

It aims to assist those responsible for management, policy making or reform of prisons within their own countries; international and regional actors supporting prison reform; as well as parliamentarians, civil society organisations and others that play a role in overseeing and monitoring prisons. The tool includes:

- An introduction to penal reform
- The rationale for why integrating gender strengthens penal reform processes
- Practical actions to integrate gender into penal reform initiatives
- An overview of particular gender and penal reform issues in post-conflict, transitional, developing and developed country contexts