Soldiers sensitised on gender mainstreaming in the Armed Forces
A sensitisation workshop on the “Enhancing Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) capabilities to address barriers to Women in Peacekeeping” project and the gender-mainstreaming initiatives of the GAF has begun for personnel of the GAF in the Northern Region.
Personnel attending the five-day sensitisation workshop, which began on January 23, and would end January 27, are being taken through topics, including the background of the project; the findings of the Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations (MOWIP); the gender mainstreaming agenda of GAF; basic introduction to gender concepts and gender roles, gender perspectives and military effectiveness; the Ghana National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security; Gendered Military Culture and Policies for Change; Gender Relations in the Armed Forces, and Gender roles and stereotypes.
The18-month project, which is being implemented by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) with funding from Global Affairs Canada, seeks to build the institutional capacity of the GAF to address the challenges that impede the deployment of women to United Nations (UN) peace operations.
The project was informed by the recommendations of the 2020 MOWIP Report, which assessed the GAF’s ability to deploy women to, and ensure their meaningful participation in UN peace operations.
The GAF was the first military institution in the world to complete a MOWIP assessment as part of the development of this ground-breaking, comprehensive methodology for the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations.
KAIPTC undertook the data collection for the GAF’s MOWIP Report from 2019 to 2020, and the Report identified a number of barriers to women’s meaningful participation in UN peace operations, and the top three that emerged were eligibility pool, gender roles, and social exclusion.
It recommended, among others, the development of specific policy interventions to address various issues impeding women’s eligibility as well as the implementation of training and professional development programmes to advance the skills and capacities of women in the GAF hence the sensitisation workshop.
Between September, 2022 to January, 2023 a joint team comprising KAIPTC staff and personnel from the Ghana and Canadian Armed Forces have visited five Garrison of the GAF in Sunyani, Kumasi, Tema, Ho and Takoradi to undertake similar sensitisation workshop in line with the project.
Miss Joana Osei-Tutu, Head at Women, Peace and Security Institute at KAIPTC, speaking during the sensitisation workshop at the Barwah Barracks in Tamale, said it was to mainstream gender into the activities of GAF to ensure that the needs of all personnel, including civilian employees were addressed within the Force.
Ms Osei-Tutu said, “The GAF, over the past five years, has been working towards mainstreaming gender into its activities not looking at only women’s activities but also looking holistically at what they can do as a Force to ensure that all personnel including civilian employees; their needs are being addressed effectively within the Force to ensure a more holistic armed service.”
She said deploying more women in peacekeeping operations was beneficial to the GAF and the country as a whole emphasising that “A lot of the times when we deploy, we deploy more men, which has been quite to some extent a load on the men. We have females, who we can equally deploy. This means that we reduce the burden of having more men into the field but also enable us to harness the potential of the females, who are in the system to also reach their full capacity.”
She added that “The nature of war is changing and the survivors of conflict are also increasingly becoming females. So, it is also prudent that the people that we send out to respond to the wars and the chaos in the world also reflect the demographics of the survivors or victims of war. So, it will be prudent for the Forces that are deployed to also have a fair number of both men and women to respond to the people that they are going out there to respond to.”
Colonel William Abotsi, GAF Point of Contact for Elsie Initiative for Uniformed Women in Peacekeeping, said the sensitisation workshop was complementary to the institutionalisation of gender training in the Armed Forces training institutions, which would ensure a better working environment for all genders.
Col Abotsi said the GAF was working to create gender curricula for four levels of training within the armed forces for both officers and other ranks.