In collaboration with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ended a three-days successful gender mainstreaming workshop attracting senior staff of the MoD and RSLAF personnel.
The three day session held at the Arakan Officers Mess, Wilberforce in Freetown, focused on the development of a gender sensitive policy framework.
Brigadier General Komba S. Mondeh, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff revealed that the aim of the workshop was to develop a gender policy for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), and to review the Sierra Leone Defence Force White Paper. He said the formulation of a gender policy framework is a clear manifestation of the determination of the RSLAF to allow men and women to take their destiny in their own hands. He added that it also shows how determined is the military to be part of the development in the global world to implement Resolution 1325 and 1820 on sexual violence.
He however, stated that women have an important role to play in peace keeping, protection of the territorial integrity of the state and in ensuring that the social fabrics of a nation remain intact. Delivering his statement, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Nelson Williams, described gender mainstreaming as the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned actions, including legislation policies or programme in all areas and at all levels.
He pointed out that the gaps between men and women have closed over the last 20 years in terms of education enrolment, literacy and life expectancy, but hastened to state that women still lags behinds in terms of political and economic participation.
CDS Williams disclosed further that the RSLAF have been the pace setters in the field of gender and women affairs in Sierra Leone. "We are the first country to have a Female Combatant Brigadier General in the Sub-region and we will ensure that other women are able to reach their full potentials," he boasted.
He said it is an avowed police that troops are treated equally. He pointed out that the RSLAF want to ensure that it soldiers are not discriminated against due to gender issues.
He also emphasized that gender mainstreaming and equality is integrated into the security because it is a global mandated requirement.
According to the Executive Director Africa Institute of South Africa, Dr. Momca Juma, the workshop was interactive as participants contributed significantly to the development of the policy and the review of the defence white paper.