Brigadier General Twum Ampofo-Gyekye, Director- General Training, Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has urged gender advisers of GAF to create an equitable working environment for personnel to build their confidence.
“Your primary role is to assist your respective commanders to create an equitable working environment for all, and to disabuse the minds of personnel against gender mainstreaming, so that we can work effectively as a team,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Ampofo-Gyekye made the call in a speech read for him by Colonel Ben Gah, Deputy Director-General Training, GAF, during a training programme for newly appointed Gender Advisers.
The programme is to equip them to effectively help in mainstreaming gender in the Service.
Brig. Gen. Ampofo-Gyeke noted that Gender mainstreaming required the consideration of the needs of all personnel in their activities, operations, and administration, which required tasking the best qualified person for duties, and also giving all personnel equal opportunities to resources, training, and deployments.
He said this would ensure that no sex was marginalised since it was a male-dominated institution and there might be several unconscious biases in the Service which the Gender Advisers were expected to help address.
According to Brig-Gen. Ampofo-Gyeke, Ghana was a signatory to several United Nations treaties calling for the respect for human rights and equal opportunity for both sexes, thus, all government Ministries and Departments were expected to mainstream their operations, hence, the appointment of the Gender Policy Adviser to the Chief of the Defence Staff of the GAF.
He charged the Advisers to read, research broadly to fully understand their duties, think outside the box to draw workable plans and programmes, saying that, he expected that in a year or two, they should be able to point to tangible achievements.
“I look forward to when decision makers at all levels do not see the strength of our Armed Forces in terms of only male members; where soldiers do not perceive their female counterparts as a burden and where females do not see themselves as weak and only in to support the men and therefore, deserve special dispensation,” he said.
Dr Fifi Edu-Afful, Research Fellow, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) said, gender roles were socially constructed roles and expectations of acceptable learned behaviours in a given community, which determined tasks and responsibilities that were perceived as masculine or feminine.
Noting that the socio-cultural set up of the society had fuelled the issues of gender based biases, and called for the consideration of issues of inequalities in the legal framework, and gender based violence such as sexual harassment, emotional and verbal abuse of personnel in the Service.
Dr Edu-Afful urged the gender advisers to build the capacity of women, provide them with the necessary support and resource to enable them to perform their functions in the Service effectively as their male counterparts.
He discouraged the ascribing of attributes such as competency and bravery to men, and fear and fragility to women since women were not weak as society perceived.
Women, he held, when measured with the same yardstick as men, “would push and perform better.”