Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Defence has firmly stated that ongoing cooperation with Canada’s Elsie Initiative is not ‘Affirmative Action’
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Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Defence has firmly stated that ongoing cooperation with Canada’s Elsie Initiative is not ‘Affirmative Action’, but an endeavour to assure young women that they can earn any job, rank or position in the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) through hard work, dedication and high performance, just as their male counterparts, without gender hindrances.

Mr Kofi Amankwa-Manu who doubles as Member of Parliament (MP) for Atwima-Kwanwoma, stated at a Media Launch which is precursor to a National Recruitment Campaign to encourage Women to join the Combat Units of the GAF, on Wednesday June 21 2023, at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Otu Barracks, Kpeshie Ridge, Teshie, under the theme: “Guaranteeing Equal Opportunities for All in the GAF”.

The campaign, the MP said, is to particularly inspire young women in high schools and tertiary institutions to join Combat and Combat Support Units in the Armed Forces, and educate them of the myriad of opportunities available, expecting to motivate them to aspire to become Commanders, Naval Ship Captains, Pilots, Logistics Specialists, and Service Chiefs.

He revealed that the media campaigns would include television, radio, social media messaging, 16 regional visits of high schools and tertiary institutions by KAIPTC and GAF teams, to increase female quota of military personnel in the GAF, in the coming years, whiles it also highlights a policy of equal opportunity in recruitment, training and promotion of personnel.

He further averred that GAF had in recent past, already rolled out policies that tried to create even playing fields for all genders, resulting in high number of women deployed in peacekeeping, some gradually rising to positions of authority and decision making, three of whom became Deputy Force Commanders at Mission des Nations Unies pour I’Organisation d’un Referendum au Sahara Occidental (MINURSO) and United Nations Disengagement Force (UNDOF).

He further pointed to appointment of women as Commanding Officers (CO), Commander of a Naval Ship, Helicopter Pilot, and of Gender Advisers and Focal Persons at all levels of command, stating firmly that, recruitment and placement is based on one’s capability to fit into their chosen roles effectively; for under no circumstance shall GAF fail to perform its primary role of defending national territorial integrity.

“These policies were complemented by the Elsie Initiative to bring us to where we are today. And it is expected to improve with the wholistic projects being undertaken with the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peacekeeping”, Deputy Minister Amankwa-Manu stated.

The Commandant, KAIPTC – Major General (Maj Gen) Richard Addo Gyane, in his welcome address, said GAF, through the Elsie Initiative Fund, is to reinforce actions already taken by GAF’s High Command to address women’s participation in peace operations, hence securing funding to build a 200-bed and 100-bed female dormitory facilities at Army Recruit Training School, Shai Hills and Army Special Operations Training School, Daboya, respectively.

KAIPTC, he said, remains committed to promoting gender equality and meaningful participation and leadership of women in peace and security processes as provided in international provisions such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, UNSCR 2242 (2015) and 2538 (2020) on Women in Peacekeeping, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa – the Maputo Protocol.

General Gyane said that, in advancing youth issues to enhance the principles of inclusivity, the KAIPTC is not only elevating its Women in Peace and Security Institute (WPSI) from a Unit to a Department, but also adding Youth component to its activities to become Women, Youth Peace and Security Institute (WYPSI).

He said the verdict is in recognition that sustainable peace and security of decision-making and peace processes, are inclusive of inputs from both men, women, and the youth – who have become a rich source of recruitment for elements with diabolic intents that continue to threaten the peace and security of the West African sub-region.

Mr Andrew Maharaj – Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian High Commission in Ghana, representing the High Commissioner, said Canada launched the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in 2017, with the aim of advancing meaningful participation of military and police women in UN peace operations.

He said Ghana has integrated the perspectives of women in peacekeeping, being host of the next UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting in December 2023 – in whose preparation, Canada, Bangladesh and Uruguay are co-hosting the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Preparatory meeting on the topic of Women in Peacekeeping in Dhaka, next week, where 4 Ghanaian delegates will participate.

Canada is providing approximately 1.5 million Canadian Dollars to KAIPTC, for an 18-month project to strengthen GAF’s institutional capacity to address barriers faced by women seeking deployment to UN peace operations, and to advance gender equality within armed forces, Mr Maharaj added.

He said Canada worked with UN Women, to establish a global multi-partner UN Fund, whose steering committee it co-chairs with UN Women. Canada’s Elsie Initiative also has in place bilateral technical assistance and training partnerships with the Ghana Armed Forces, the Zambia Police Service and the Ministry of the Armed Forces of Senegal.

In an overview presentation, Colonel (Col) Wiliam Abotsi – GAF Contact for the Elsie Initiative, said the Initiative has six (6) major components, namely Canada’s Bilateral Partnership with T/PCCs, the Elsie Initiative Fund for Women in Peace Operations, Targeted Research and creating Receptive Environment in the Context of UN missions, Global Advocacy, outreach and Policy Change and Monitoring and Evaluation of Elsie Initiative Activities.

In the Bilateral Partnership with Canada specifically, KAIPTC is designing and will roll out a gender training package for all levels of training in GAF; has conducted a Garrison Tour to create gender awareness in all Garrisons of GAF and is developing an online resource for training of Gender Advisors and Gender Focal Persons.

KAIPTC is also conducting three female Military Observation (MILOB) and UN Staff Officers Courses through targeted training of uniformed women officers; acquiring furniture for 20 Gender Advisors Offices, and providing Data Base for GAF’s General Headquarters (GHQ) International Peace Support Operations (IPSO) to monitor progress of the projects.

Global Affairs Canada’s bilateral support to the Ghana Armed Forces through the Elsie Initiative Fund project with KAIPTC, and in collaboration with the Canadian Armed Forces, is complementary to the multilateral support provided through the UN’s Elsie Initiative Fund project.

Contributors to the USD32 million Elsie Fund are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea and United Kingdom. The GAF project is one of three projects by the Fund where the project design is evidence-based recommendations derived directly from data from the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, which ensures opportunities for women in peace operations.

Dignitaries present included GAF’s Chief of the Defence Staff – Vice Admiral Seth Amoama; Chief of the Army Staff – Maj Gen Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Commodore Prosper Modey for the Chief of the Naval Staff, Air Commodore Eric Agyen-Frempong for the Chief of the Air Staff, UN Women National Program Coordinator – Madam Afua Ansre, Representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; and of Gender, Children and Social Protection.