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WISS-SL Identifies Challenges in Security Sector
Sep 24, 2009, 17:34
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Women in Security Sector Sierra Leone (WISS-SL), officially launched on the 25th July 2008, held its first locally owned consultative meeting on the 17th September 2009 at the Senior Police Officers Mess, Kingtom, Freetown. The theme of the meeting read "Building and Strengthening female representation and participation in the Security Sector in Sierra Leone".

In an interview with the Project Coordinator, Mrs. Frances Nyuma of the Office of National Security, it was an attempt to bring together stakeholders (beneficiaries, allies, policy makers and institutional heads) to deliberate on issues affecting female security personnel, from the recruitment stage down to the termination stage. She added that it was an opportunity for the ladies in the Security Sector to identify and clearly state their needs and the gaps at their individual institutions and at sectoral level.

The opening session featured statements from the Heads / Representatives from the various Security Sector Institutions in Sierra Leone (the office of National Security, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, the Sierra Leone Police, the Immigration Department and the Sierra Leone Prison Service), as it relates to the theme of the meeting. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Kallay, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Childrens Affairs, on behalf of the Deputy Minister of his ministry.

In his statement, the Acing National Security Coordinator of the Office of National Security, Mr. Lawrence Larry Bassie reiterated the significance of the Security Sector Reform Process with regards to gender issues / mainstreaming, and that the government has both local and international instruments to effectively mainstream gender in the security sector.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Nelson Williams boasted that the military has its gender lens on, as he can boast of a She Brigadier and an increase in the number of female cadets in the 2009 recruitment.

Speaking on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police, the Chairperson of the meeting Assistant Inspector General of Police Support Services, Mrs. Elizabeth Turay stated that twenty-one (21) female police personnel have been recently promoted to the ranks of sergeants and Inspectors, after a successful completion of a course at the Institute of Public Administration and Management. She added that there is an increase in the number of women been sent on Peace Keeping Missions from the Sierra Leone Police.

While giving the vote of thanks, Mrs Francess Nyuma particularly thanked the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the Accra based Womens Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-A) for the numerous support they have given to WISS-SL, prior to its inception and to date, especially in ensuring the success of the meeting. Additionally, she thanked the Heads / Representatives of the various Security Institutions, for making it a point of duty to attend and contribute to the success of the programme, despite their busy schedules. She also thanked the guests and the media for honouring WISS-SLs invitation and asked them for their continued support, to ensure success.

The second session saw presentations and deliberations on topics that are of essence to the identification of the needs and gaps. After much deliberation, the following needs / gaps were identified:

Under representation of women at strategic levels in the security sector. For instance, in the RSLAF, there is one (1) female Brigadier out of three (3); one (1) female director out of eight (8) at the ONS; two (2) female Assistant Inspectors- General of Police as against eleven (11) in the SLP.

Lack of access to the National Security Policy, which makes it difficult for it to be engendered.

Lack of self-confidence among female security personnel partly as a result of the gender/cultural stereotypes within the sector.

Generally low representation of women within the security sector.

Lack of quota system in the security sector.

Low levels of education of some female security personnel.

Stagnation of promotion within some of these institutions.

Lack of adequate knowledge on gender issues and existing policies on gender within the various institutions.

Problematic human resource policies on marriage and pregnancy.

Participants came up with the following resolutions:

Gender responsive policies and procedures need to be reviewed, revised and create new policies, codes of conduct and procedures that take into account the needs of women including sexual harassment.

There is need for the full implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820.

There is need for the full implementation of the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Training courses in the Security Sector should incorporate gender responsiveness and gender mainstreaming at all levels.

Establish strategic targets and specific security initiatives to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in the security sector in Sierra Leone.

Review and revise existing security related legislation, policies and protocols to ensure that they are not discriminatory and take account the specific security needs of women.

Strengthen parliamentary oversight on gender issues.

Conduct gender analysis in security / defence budget.

Women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles and a broad range of tasks, including operational functions.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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