Three Security Sector services in Ghana have revealed major strides they are making in mainstreaming gender in their sector. The services including Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Ghana Immigration service (GIS) and the Ghana National Fire service (GNFS) shared exponential increase of women participation in the sector, like high-rank female officers undertaking sensitive appointments, due to the gender equality measures that have been adopted by the services over the years. These revelations were made by the representatives of the services on the June edition of FOSDA’s monthly Women, Peace and Security (WPS) webinar dubbed; ‘Talk WPS’.

This high-level panel variously expounded on the equitable measures and gender transformational approaches the services have adopted to promote women’s participation.  The panel included a representative of the Ghana armed forces, Group Captain Theodora Adjoa Agornyo, Chief Superintendent Evelyn Danquah Kottoh from the Ghana Immigration Service and Assistant. Chief Fire Officer I (ACFO I) Gilbert Klutse from the Ghana National Fire Service.

Talk WPS Webinar is one of the strategies adopted by FOSDA to promote The UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. This resolution  became a priority  in the year 2000 among United Nations (UN) member states as it finally recognised that women also play a crucial part in advancing peace and security as well as societal development and human rights and started the wave of Women, Peace and Security (WPS).  The June edition of TWPS sort to address the question whether women have equal opportunities to participate in the leadership, provision, management and oversight of security at all levels and what practical measures are in place to improve the participation of women in the sector.  

ACFO I Gilbert Klutse revealed that The Fire Service can actually boast of a rise in female recruitment up to 47% currently.   All three representatives insisted that their services were gender sensitive and have in place measures to identify and address the different needs of men and women in training and in the course of work. Many things to eliminate gender-biases and to promote gender equity in these agencies right from recruitment to retirement.  

Giving the spotlight to some developments highlighted by our representatives include but are not limited to the following.

Gender Mainstreaming developments in the Ghana Immigration Service

The Immigration service has a ratio of 1:2 where approximately half of about 12,000 officers are women. This was not the case many years back, Chief Supt. Evelyn Danquah indicated that the current trends of migration have necessitated the inclusion of more women into the various exit and entry points at our borders. She illuminated participants about the role of women as perpetrators of violent extremism and transnational organised crime and mentioned that to combat these issues, the Immigration Service now had more women at our borders.

Other creditable gender equity measures of the Immigration Service is their paternity leave, as well as the training of two focal persons each from all regions on gender mainstreaming principles last year.

Gender Mainstreaming developments in the GNFS

ACFO I Gilbert Klutse mentioned that the GNFS has an ‘Equal opportunities’ scheme that is made public to all trainees so that they are aware of prospects available to all e.g., women being entitled to maternity leave during pregnancy and having the opportunity to go home early when they resume work to nurse their child.

They also encourage all their female staff to take up roles that will boost their CVs when they want to apply for senior ranks

Gender Mainstreaming developments in the GAF

Just like the equal opportunities scheme mentioned by the Fire Service representative, the Armed Forces also provides such and as stated by Group Captain Theodora Agornyo, they also have very senior female officers in very sensitive appointments, like the Ghanaian female Brigadier General who serves as a Defence Attaché in Abidjan and a female sea- going Commander who is doing very well in the Navy.

The Ghana Armed Forces currently has about 11 gender advisors across the Forces with almost equal number of women and men in these positions.

In every GAF training course, gender perspectives are considered and included to sensitize members on gender matters. GAF also conducts cross-training so that women and men can be effective at every point in their career.

In all three services, pregnancy and child-birth do not stop a woman from moving forward in her career. Progresses like attire tailored for both women and men in boxing training, and feminine boots in appropriate sizes available for female officers, which hitherto gender mainstreaming were seen as mundane and unnecessary have also been welcome across the services.

FOSDA applauds the work the three security services have begun to put in to break the glass ceiling of gender inequality through their administrative mandates and regulations. One common challenge though, that popped up, was the fact that none of these services actually had a written, active and stand-alone gender policy that they are currently implementing. In the absence of an active working gender policy and an affirmative action policy, FOSDA encourages our security services to continue working with intentional efforts on their gender and affirmative action policies that will promote women’s full and meaningful participation and contribute to a more conducive environment for their delivery. Ultimately, the importance of policy to The Gender Awakening is definitely needed for WPS to gain more grounds over traditional, masculine security sector.

Conclusion Ideally any eligible Ghanaian especially young female should be able to apply to any security service in the country without preconceived notions from outdated perceptions about our security sector. The fact that the security sector is reforming regulations that promote gender equality is a great start to increased participation of women at all levels of decision-making. However, we still have not fully utilized the potential and power of women in security for building and sustaining peace. Looking to the future, gender parity in our security sector achieved through proper implementation of result-oriented gender policies and affirmative action policies will lead us all to the sustainable and equitable society we desire