December 3, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
With funding from the European Union (EU), the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) in partnership with Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA) and the Weapons and Ammunition Management (MAG) have ended three-day training of Security sector, CSOs and other stakeholders on Gender Mainstreaming Small Arms Control.
The training was held at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown on the theme “Integrating Gender Dimension in the Fight against Proliferation, Trafficking and Misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Sierra Leone”.
The training which commenced on Thursday November 30, ended on 2 December2021, and beneficiaries of the all-important training included but not limited to senior security officials of the Sierra Leone Police, Office of National Security, Correctional Centre, Military, and representatives from ministries, civil society organizations and other international organisations.
The objective of the UNREC project is to strengthen the capacity of SLeNCSA to effectively integrate gender-sensitive measures and actions into small arms control programmes, policies, legislations and projects.
In his welcome remark, Colonel (Rtd) Binneh K. Coneth (OOR), Deputy Commissioner SLeNCSA said it is time to come together to be part of rebuilding security and peace process without discrimination based on sex or any other cultural, political or religious diversity.
He added that Gender Mainstreaming is clearly seen as an essential for security human rights and social justice for women as well as men.
“Nineteen years after our war, we are all assembled here to talk about how we can bring everybody on board in the painful process of putting together the broken pieces of war and continue strengthening the foundations of physical security, peace and development,” he stated.
He further stated that the business of arms and ammunitions control in post-conflict Sierra Leone need a twin-track approach by mainstreaming gender in all key policies, programmes and institutions.
He concluded that SLeNCSA invited all participants so as to provide a forum to discuss how to mainstream the involvement of everybody irrespective of sex or age in arms and ammunition control in Sierra Leone.
Simonetta Rossi, Peace and Development Advisory to the of the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, commended everyone for promoting a training that will contribute to sustaining peace and stability not only in Sierra Leone but in the entire West African sub-region.
She stated that over 1.5 billion people across the world live in countries affected by violence conflict or high levels of crime, and more than 526,000 people are violently killed each year, just over one per minute.
Rossi mentioned that many countries in the world face an alarming increase in violence and crime that erode the foundation of democracy and imposes huge social cultural and economic burdens on societies that can least afford them. “Weapons are the main means of violence, but if we want to eliminate violence we should address it causes,” she added.
Rossi maintained that women and young people should be empowered to sustain peace and stability and contribute to the development of their community and societies in a cohesive and inclusive manner.
Serina Bertaina, Team Lead Governance EU Delegation, on behalf of Manuel Muller, Head of EU Delegation to Sierra Leone congratulated all involved countries from Africa for their steadfast support for mainstreaming gender perspectives in addressing the differential impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on women, men, girls and boys.
“We need to build on the momentum generated by the successful outcome for the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States (BMS7) on arms trade treaty. The European Union and its members states are determined to implement a robust policy framework on internally as well as externally, and the EU strategic approach to WPS and it action plan 3 of 25 November 2020,” she stated.
Bertaina said in line with the 2018 EU strategy against illicit firearms, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition, the EU systematically mainstreams gender considerations in the design of new project relating to the fight against gun violence and SALW gun control in general.
“When gender dimensions are not adequately dealt with in legislative and policy frameworks, the success and effectiveness of interventions are limited,” she added.
She stated that the EU provides funding to the UN Office for disarmament Affairs (UNODA) for the implementation of global multi-year project, which seeks to translate gender-related global commitments on small arms control into regional and local practices and the promotions of implementation of the Arms Aid Treaty.
Katja Boettcher, Representative of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), invited all participants to take a closer look and apply a gender lens to the demand, the use and misuse, and the impact of weapons at the small arms problem over the next few days.
She said the three-day training will also strengthen Sierra Leone’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable Development, in particular Goal 16 on peace and security, and Goal 5 on gender equality.
“The activities this week are very timely because they collide with the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based, which started on 25 November, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, which runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day,” she said.
She encouraged all to work together to prevent and combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, to prevent their devastating effects on people, and to ensure collective peace, stability, security, human rights and opportunities for everyone.
“I am encouraged by the diversity of stakeholders participating in this workshop, including the different state services and defense and security forces, civil society and various national and international partners,” she concluded.
During the three days intensive training, various presentations were made by experts of gender advocate groups and both local and international organisations on small arms and light weapons control. The three day training was divided in to 10 sessions which included concepts and terminology related to gender and small arms and light weapons, normative framework, gender-based analysis in the context of small arms and light weapons, link between Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, review of Action Plans and National Frameworks among others.
The training was climaxed by closing remarks and certification of participants. In their closing remarks, participants expressed delight of the three day intensive but very important training, noting that they would fully put into practice what they have learnt over the past three days.