BY Ndey Sowe
The West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), held a forum with female security officers across the country, to mark 16 days of activism to end gender based violence at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) Headquarters on Monday December 10th, 2018.
The forum was meant to create a platform for participants to share challenges and to come up with recommendations on how to curb those challenges.
The main aim of the forum is to increase women representation and participation in the security sector, and in peacekeeping processes in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. The forum targeted 40 female security officials from, GAF, GID, GPF, NIA, FRS, and GNDE, to name just a few, to end Gender Based Violence. According to officials, the forum is used as a platform to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
In her welcome address, Catherine P. Jassey, said over the years, they have been conducting series of activities on women peace and security, in order to enhance their participation; that their program is conceived to mainstream women’s participation in peace building and conflict resolution as key stakeholders and actors.
‘‘As a result, WANEP underscores the need to increase the capacity of women in peace building processes and decision making for the development of conflict resolution mechanisms and conflict prevention,’’ she said.
Mariama Jammeh, program assistant, peace education / Governance and Democracy, applauded the initiative for bringing together different members of the security forces, and said that it also serves as a platform to discuss gender based violence they are faced at their work places.
“We still lack a precise data, but we can say with fair certainty, that at least one of every three women has fallen victim to physical or sexual violence. At least half have experienced sexual harassment at the work place and so on,” she said.
There has been a lot of conventions and provisions for the protection of women and girls in the country which she said, has put big responsibilities on the shoulders of State institutions; that it is the task of every individual to help in the prevention of violence, which requires willingness to recognize “what we often choose not to see and give a voice to survivors whom we often shame to silence.”
“We need to be hopeful. I think we also need to be angry that it has taken so long. The fact that so many women have endured abuse in silence, is a cause for concern” she said.
In her key note address, Brigadier General Ramatoulie Sanneh of GAF, said there are differences and inequalities between women and men in many societies, particularly in responsibilities assigned to and activities undertaken, access to and control over resources as well as decision making opportunities.
She added that there is need for thorough, conscious, and concerted effort to sensitize and participate in activism such as raising awareness on the dangers of gender based violence.
“We must be cognizant of the ravaging power this particular societal phenomenon has in worsening the situation further, especially for us women,” she noted. ‘‘Together we must also strive to create platforms within our various institutions to openly provoke health dialogue with the opposite sex,’’ she concludes.
She thanked WANEP for their foresight in involving them, and assured that they will continue to commit themselves in such endeavors that will continue to shape awareness, for the wellbeing of all.