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Women must break habits, change mindsets

Commodore Faustina Boakyewaa Anokye, a former Deputy Force Commander, United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has urged women to break habits and change mindsets.

She said this at the United Nations Information Centre’s video screening and panel Discussion on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ held at British Council in Accra.

‘The journey to gender equality, equity, inclusion, has not been an essay one. It takes a lot to break habits and to change mindsets. More sustained and urgent actions are still needed. We can and must do better because equality for women is progress for all.

‘Let us embrace equity, inspire inclusion and invest in women for accelerated growth.’

The event discussed obstacles and challenges that women face in participating in peace and security efforts and share best practices that promote women’s inclusion in peacebuilding processes.

Commodore Anokye said it was ironical that women were affected by all the 17 SDG’s directly or indirectly, yet they were highly unde
rrepresented in the process of achieving the goals.

She said including women in the problem-solving processes could go a long way to accelerate progress.

Commodore Anokye quoting the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy document, said only five(5) per cent of uniformed military personnel were women, with no significant improvement in recent years.

According to her, the cause of abysmal imbalance stemmed from policies and practices of member states and internal challenges with the UN Secretariat’s control.

She said the Office of Military Affairs at United Nations Headquarters was targeting 25 per cent for contracted post, staff officers and military observers and 15 per cent for formed troops by 2028.

‘As it stands now, women in contracted positions are around 9.6 per cent, observers and staff officers are around 8.2 per cent and contingents are as low as about four per cent globally as of 2018.’

Commodore Anokye narrowing her presentation to the case of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) said ‘we have come a long
way as far as women, peace and security is concerned. In GAF, affirmative action started way back in 1994 and it recognises the importance of women, peace, and security.’

‘It is gratifying now to see a vast improvement in female enlistment and recruitment in all areas of the Ghana Armed Forces. The Ghana Armed Forces can boast of an average of 20 per cent of its workforce being women and the Navy alone can boast of about 22 percent,’ she said.

She said now many females were being promoted beyond Lieutenant Colonels and equivalent by merits, adding there were females Commanding Officers at some Units and Ships as well.

‘I dove my heart to the Military High Command over the years for walking the talk and gradually mainstreaming gender in all aspects of its activities, removing barriers through review of some regulations, and giving women equal opportunity to compete for promotion and positions.’

Charles Abani, UN Resident Coordinator, said Ghana was one of the largest contributors of peacekeeping in the wor

Cynthia Prah, National Information Officer, UN Ghana, said between 1957 and 1989, there were only 20 uniformed women in peacekeeping.

‘As of September 2023, there were 6,200. But progress has been slow and particularly low among Military contingents. Out of the more than 70,000 uniformed peacekeepers, including over 62,000 troops, less than 10 per cent are women.’

According to the UN Information Officer, UN Ghana, among the over 120 countries that contributed both troops and police, Ghana was among Africa’s top seven contributors of uniformed women today.

Source: Ghana News Agency