By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Burma Camp

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has held a one-day High-Level Gender Conference for top hierarchy of the military, with the theme “Guaranteeing Equal Opportunities in the Ghana Armed Forces”, to address conscious or unconscious significant imbalances, prejudices or stereotypes, in Ghana’s military.

The seminar took place at the Command Mess, Burma Camp, on Monday, 12th October, 2020 and was intended that outcomes from the meeting, would lead to the newly created office of Gender Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), working with Service, Formations and Unit Gender Focal Point Officers, to ensure sensitization of personnel on the concept of Gender Mainstreaming.

In presenting a keynote address to participants, the CDS – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Boamah Akwa, recounted the achievements of GAF on the Gender issue, and cited the appointment of the Gender Policy Advisor to the CDS (Commander Veronica Arhin), an increase in the intake of women to 17 percent, two female Generals, and the commissioning of five female officers into the Infantry Corps.

General Akwa indicated that in the ranks, a number of females are employed in trades or capacities initially preserved for men, such as Colour Ensigns and their related Colour Escorts, Physical Training Instructors, attending Drill and Duties courses, and some as Sergeant Majors or service equivalents.

Historically, Lt Gen Akwa mentioned GAF as one of the few Armed Forces in the world to have started enlisting female personnel, as far back as 1958, trained Officer Pilots in 1965 and that presently, in Troop Contribution, GAF ensures 13-15 percent of peacekeeping missions around the world are females (which is ahead of the UN target for 2028).

The CDS however, declared trust in the seminar resource persons, to point out the benefic effects that GAF would further derive from the confab, since there is no doubt that gender mainstreaming is good for achieving the right balance in military’s day-to-day decisions, operations and activities.

The resource personnel – Dr Fiifi Edu-Afful – Research Fellow at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC), Mrs Levinia Addae-Mensah – Programme Director & Deputy Executive Director, West Africa Network for Peace (WANEP) and Mrs Joana Osei-Tutu – Head, Women Peace and Security Institute, KAIPTC, took turns to make their presentations to participants.

The resource persons, speaking on the captions, “Mobilizing Senior Leadership as Partners of Women Peace and Security”, “Bridging the Changing Roles of Men and Women in Security Provision” and “Creating Opportunities for Gender Mainstreaming in GAF” stated the following;  What Gender is and is not, Dealing with taboos and stigmas, Perceptions of immorality, Responding to socio-cultural expectations (marriage, children) and Stereotypes around women.

Other topics included Addressing the challenges with equipment, Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Assault, Lack of adequate resources, Steps for Gender Mainstreaming, Gender Analysis, Gender Equality, Integration of Gender Equality in interventions, Dialogue with partners on gender sensitive issues and aspects, Designing Operational plans including Monitoring and Evaluation plans, etc.

Apart from the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, which enjoins member countries to take steps to ensure gender perspective integration into all institutions, GAF is also obliged by the United Nation Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2538, to ensure women’s participation in decision making, peace keeping and building.

Present at the seminar included the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) – Major General (Maj Gen) Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) – Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Seth Amoama, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) – Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Frank Hanson, Chief of Staff (COS), General Headquarters (GHQ) – R/Adm Issah Adam Yakubu.

Others were the Air Officer, Special Duties, Presidency – AVM Frederick Asare Bekoe, Commandant, Military Academy Training Schools (MATS) – Maj Gen Charles Awity and Director General, Defence Intelligence – Maj Gen Nicholas Peter Andoh.

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