October 2010 marks ten years since the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (PDF) on women, peace and security. This landmark resolution calls on institutions working on peace and security at both global and national levels to address the different impacts of conflict on women and men, and to engage women fully in conflict prevention, resolution, peacekeeping, peace-building and throughout the security sector.
The Government of Ghana is in the process of developing a National Action Plan on Resolution 1325 under the leadership of Ghana's Ministry for Women and Children (MOWAC) to ensure that Ghana's peace and security policies respond to UNSCR 1325.
For Canada, working with Ghana on women, peace and security issues is part of a natural evolution. Canada was on the Security Council when it unanimously adopted UNSCR 1325, a moment that marked the culmination of years of intensive work on behalf of NGOs, governments and UN Agencies. Moreover, Ghana is a longstanding partner with Canada on peace and security issues. Our countries participate together in various peace support missions around the world such as UNAMID in Sudan. We also collaborate through the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) based in Accra and Ghana is a member of the Canadian Military Training and Cooperation Programme.
In light of our close relationship, the High Commission of Canada to Ghana and the NGO WIPSEN-Africa launched a series of workshops in June 2010 with Ghana's security sector. Over a period of months, women and men from across Ghana's security sector – from Ghana's Police Services to its Armed Forces, from Customs and Immigration to Ghana's Prison Services – have shared their stories. They provided their perspectives on the institutional challenges their respective sector is facing with regards gender mainstreaming as well as the opportunities for engaging more women in Ghana's security sector.
The roundtables have targeted both men and women within the different institutions; however some institutions have sent only women and this again speaks to the erroneous misconception that gender is synonymous with women. What is worth noting is that the group dynamics in cases where participants were only women or a mix of men and women have been so different and affirms that men ought to be targeted if significant changes are to be realised for women within the security sector.
Below are excerpts of participants' opinion of the roundtables:
“I have attended several meetings on gender and gender mainstreaming but this is the very first time I understand what it really means and how it can be applied in the context of our work”: (Ghana Prisons Services)
“More workshops on gender should emulate this by engaging men in the discourse ... we stand to accomplish our objectives if men are involved and aware that gender really applies to both men and women”: (Ghana Armed Forces)
The roundtable discussions have been very ably facilitated by WIPSEN-Africa, who is developing a report of recommendations based on the dialogue series. WIPSEN-Africa, the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, is a women-focused, women-led Pan-African non-governmental organization with the core mandate to promote women's strategic participation and leadership in peace and security governance in Africa.
”Like UNSCR 1325, WIPSEN-Africa believes that women have strategic roles to play and contribution to make in peace and security across the globe. There really can be no sustainable peace and security without women and therefore our focus in the roundtable discussions is on Africa's security sector - the last bastion of patriarchy”: Ecoma Alaga, WIPSEN-Africa
On October 14, 2010, the High Commission of Canada, with WIPSEN-Africa, will invite the participants from all of the roundtables to join other important stakeholders from the UN, civil society and most importantly, from the Government of Ghana, to a final plenary meeting. We hope that the gender gaps and recommendations from these roundtables will feed into national security discourse, policy and operations in order to attain just peace, security and development for the people of Ghana.