The State of Gender in the Congolese National Police: An exploration of gender mainstreaming processes in DRC


The Security Sector Accountability and Police Reform (SSAPR) programme is intended to assist the Congolese Government in re-establishing rule of law by supporting accountable, service-oriented security and justice institutions, focused primarily on the Police National Congolaise (PNC).

This study (available in French and English versions) sought to explore how women in the PNC experience their role as security providers, including their career progression within the PNC, as well as gender mainstreaming efforts in the PNC more broadly. It is based on qualitative and quantitative data from 513 PNC respondents stratified by gender and affiliation with the SSAPR-supported community policing programme (PdP), with further key information from political and politico-administrative leaders.

The study findings suggest that despite recent legislative progress on women’s integration and gender-based violence in the PNC, many persistent practices, beliefs and social norms impede women from joining and working in the PNC in equal ways to men. These constraints include poor salaries, high levels of risk and perceptions by both genders that the PNC is a male profession. Despite the view of policy-makers that women and men should carry out similar roles in the PNC, this study identified strong differences in the roles that women play, with women more likely to be delegated domestic duties. This separation of roles adversely impacts female officers financially and perpetuates assumptions about women’s inferiority as members of the PNC.

Stemming from these marginalising practices, systemic harassment was also found to alter women’s experiences and career progression. Despite similar rates of promotion experienced by male and female respondents, many women felt that they had been passed over for promotion after turning down the sexual advances of their superiors; other female respondents reported career stagnation and a decrease in salaries (compared to their counterparts) after rejecting sexual advances of their male superiors. These findings are further underlined by low rates of reporting with respect to harassment, found to signal low confidence in existing accountability systems rather than a lack of awareness.

The report concludes with recommendations for improving women’s experiences in the PNC by expanding gender mainstreaming to recruitment, retention and training, along with sensitisation for both male and female officers.


Anon. The State of Gender in the Congolese National Police: An exploration of gender mainstreaming processes in DRC. SSAPR, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2015) 65 pp.

Published 1 January 2015