By Kofi Ampeah-Woode
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has launched its 60 years of Female participation in the military with a route march and a flurry of activities, at Burma Camp to herald a week long commemorations.
The route march, which had the participation of the military High Command, took place on Friday, 2nd August, 2019, started from the Nicholson Stadium through the Giffard Road to the 37 Military Hospital, back through main streets of the Camp and ended at the Burma Camp sports Complex, for the actual launch.
The Chief of the Defence Staff – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Boamah Akwah, who was the Guest of Honour for the launch of the Diamond Anniversary commemorations, stated emphatically that “The forward march of the Ghana Armed Forces would be meaningless, unless it is linked up with the total cooperation of the females of the armed forces”, taking a cue from Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah.
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) – Major General (Maj Gen) William Azure Ayamdo said that, “In the GAF as a whole, we are putting women in very key positions, even in Infantry roles and I wish, in the near future, to see a woman commanding a battalion”.
“When I was pursuing my airborne course in the United States, I jumped with a lady who was about 3 months pregnant up to the tower stage and I therefore believe that our women here too can accomplish similar wonderful feats. I would further urge you all to learn how to manage the men, if you are going to assume leadership roles in GAF”, General Ayamdo opined.
60 years ago, the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, had a vision to include women in the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the first female officer to be commissioned was Major Mercy Addo, in January 1958 and by the end of same year, GAF had six female officers.
In 1963, the first batch of 12 women – WO 1 Vincentia Yawutey with 11 others, were recruited into the Signal Regiment and from those numbers, GAF women have increased into hundreds and thousands.
Brigadier General (Brg Gen) Constance Edjeani Afenu – of the Ministry of Defence and the first and for now the only General in the Armed Forces, said that “GAF has proudly gone past the periods of ‘no marriage’ and ‘no child baring’, ‘non-participation in Peacekeeping’ and now, GAF even exceeds the United Nations (UN) threshold of 15% of female participation at UN peacekeeping theaters”.
The lead female officer in GAF revealed that some appointments and ranks, which were the preserve of men, are now occupied by some females who form about 15% of GAF’s strength and pledged that women would continue to work to become the pride of the Armed Forces, under the theme “The female officer and woman are very capable, ever ready and dependable”.
Brig Gen Edjeani Afenu also revealed that the CDS and High Command of the Military has given GAF ladies a portion of land to develop for the purpose of a state-of-the-art children’s park to help children stay healthy and creative.
Dignitaries present at the walk and launch included the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) – Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Frank Hanson, Maj Gen Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Chief Staff Officer (CSO) at the Navy Headquarters – Commodore Issah Yakubu, Directors-General of Personnel & Administration and Logistics, Brig Gen Awity and Brig Gen Osei-Wusu, respectively.