By Kofi Ampeah-Woode
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has intensified its efforts towards institutionalizing Gender Mainstreaming, by holding a two-day maiden Gender Advisers’ Cadre, for all its Gender Advisers from Formations, nationwide.
The 2-Day cadre, took place at Burma Camp, Accra, on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th May, 2021, with the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Vice Admiral (V/Adm) Seth Amoama and the Director General, Training – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Twum Gyekye-Ampofo, as Guests of Honour, for the opening and closing sessions, respectively.
Delivering his opening address, the CDS, V/Adm Amoama, indicated that Ghana’s military, has taken bold steps in mainstreaming her ranks, commencing with a seminar, organized seven months ago, for the top hierarchy of GAF.
Paying glowing tribute to his predecessor – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Boamah Akwa, the immediate past CDS – for his great personal interest and drive to see gender mainstreaming taken to a higher level in GAF, Admiral Amoama quoted General Akwa as saying, “Enhanced gender mainstreaming today is not just right for the day, but also a better Armed Forces for tomorrow and all time”.
Admiral Amoama stated that, irrespective of one’s sex, all soldiers have potential capabilities, which need to be properly harnessed and integrated, for a balanced development in any society, and that, that is what gender mainstreaming seeks by offering opportunities for all.
“I am not entirely worried about the female numbers. What I worry about is our mindset. Gender mainstreaming should be about our mental approach, where every member of the Armed Forces has that right and positive mental perception about the other sex, and where opportunities and responsibilities are fairly and equitably distributed, based on capabilities rather than sex”, the CDS said.
“I look forward to when decision makers at all levels, do not see the strength of our Armed Forces, in terms of only male members; where soldiers do not perceive their female counterparts as burden and where females do not see themselves as weak, and only in to support the men and, therefore, deserve special dispensation. Anything short of these, does not only breed inequality, but also places huge burden on one sex, and that is the male, V/Adm Amoama surmised.
Admiral Amoama concluded; “We must work to eliminate the engrained notion of ‘because she is a woman, or because I am a man’ and rather get to the point of ‘because we are soldiers’”.
Brig Gen Gyekye-Ampofo, in his closing remarks, said that, as a male-dominated institution, coupled with the culture of the people, there is the high probability of gender gaps and biases that need to be addressed, and that, for the past 3 years, efforts has been bolstered especially following some initiatives, the appointments of the Gender Policy Adviser to the CDS and other Gender Advisers.
General Gyekye-Ampofo urged the participants, to assist their respective commanders, to sensitise troops, and for those from training institutions, to advice commanders to include gender training, in their curricula.
The Gender Policy Adviser to the CDS, GAF – Naval Captain Veronica Adzo Arhin, said in her welcome address that, since the office of the Gender Policy Adviser was created, a charter for the office has been created, a high-level gender conference for the top brass of GAF, upon the directive of the CDS and there is a committee that is working to develop a Gender Policy for the Armed Forces.
After the Gender Policy comes into force, the various Gender Advisers, at Formation and Unit levels, would work with Gender Focal Point Officers, for implementation.
Present at the cadre was the Chief of Staff (COS), General Headquarters – Major General Peter Nicholas Andoh, the Forces Sergeant Major (FSM) – Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Ramous Barker, with Cadre Facilitators being Mrs. Joana Osei-Tutu and Dr Flifi Edu-Afful from the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) and Mrs. Lavinia Addae-Mensah from the West Africa Network for Peace (WANEP).