United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), prior to its week long Africa Endeavor programme, has organized its maiden Women’s Signal Forum at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra on Sunday, 18 August 2019.
The aim was to learn, understand and share experiences, and also import best practices as far as gender was concerned in order to advance the professional career woman.
In her discussion, the Keynote speaker Brig Gen Constance Edjeani-Afenu walked participants through the challenges military women encountered in harmonizing career with private life.
She indicated that psychological differences between both sexes place women at a disadvantage. A perception which she said brands the military to be a place for the bold, courageous and strong and this has contributed to the low percentage of female soldiers in most militaries across the world.
“We need to get women to talk to women, to teach them, to share experiences, because knowledge is always power. At the end of the day we strengthen each other and we are better women,” She stated.
She noted that Ghana over the years has made great strides in increasing female participation in Peace Support Operations and was looking forward to see the numbers increase not only in the Ghana Armed Forces but in all Armed Forces across the globe.
Brig Gen Edjeani-Afenu encouraged women to rise above these perceived limitations and face every challenge head-on. She advised them to plan their lives and families and as well as plan their exit and above all be supportive partners and supervisors.
The Military Gender Advisor in the office of Military Affairs, department of Peace Operations United Nations Headquarters, Squadron Leader Fiona Pearce lectured on gender and its related issues.
She noted that despite the numerous challenges women in uniform face, their participation in peace operations enhances intelligence and situational awareness and also brings about better protection for the force and populations. Hence, the United Nations expects an increase of fifteen percent female soldiers in all its missions.
“I hope they walk away from today knowing how important they are and feeling empowered, When you have men and women working together to make decisions, those decisions are better,” said Pearce.
The Gender Advisor for US European Command, Ms. Samantha Turner, who was present at the forum, also took participants through some brain storming and very interactive exercises on perceptions of military and civilian women and men.
“It’s important to network, to build relationships and to share experiences. The stories we tell each other sometimes will work for other people, so this is all about communicating,” She noted.
Representatives from twenty six African countries with some allied partners from the United States of America, Australia and Canada participated in the forum.