By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Director of Media and Public Relations of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), has told Concord Times that, they have been doing all they could to ensure gender equality in the military, with the establishment of a Gender and Equal Opportunities Directorate.
Colonel I. Bangura was reacting to publication run by Concord Times in which the RSLAF was accused of discriminating against women soldiers deployed in peace keeping operations, claiming that they are given fewer opportunities than their male counterparts.
Speaking to Concord Times at the Ministry of Defense, State Avenue in Freetown, Colonel I. Bangura said the RSLAF has been striving so much to ensure gender equality in the army to the extent that, they recently appointed one female officer to sit as a member of the Ministry of Defense-RSLAF decision making committee and also effected the appointment of one female Officer as a Battalion Second – in-Command, to bring women into senior leadership positions.
He said the RSLAF is creating more training opportunities for women than their male counterparts, so that they could possess the required capacity to hold leadership positions in the army.
He cited the one hundred percent recruitment of women in the army as a way of bridging the gap and ensures that more women are recruited to occupy leadership positions.
Meanwhile, a Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations (MOWIP) assessment was done to examine RSLAF‘s ability to deploy women and ensure their meaningful participation in UN peace keeping operations.
After the assessment, a report was released in which it was recommended that RSLAF establish positive measures to promote women’s inclusion and reinforce their performance through courses and trainings that facilitate access to promotions.
The report also suggests that RLSAF conduct a gendered needs assessment, develop spaces, facilities, policies for nursing mothers and pregnant women and address the specific health challenges of women, which is making their retention difficult.