Friday April 12, 2019
Military Gender Focal Points of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) attend Gender Awareness Training in Mogadishu on 09 April 2019. AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed
Mogadishu – The African Union Mission
in Somalia (AMISOM) is advocating for the deployment of more women in
peacekeeping operations on the continent, saying their role has been
critical in stabilising Somalia.
“The participation of women in peacekeeping operations is not simply
desirable but critical and very important for the success of
peacekeeping operations,” said AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge
of Operations and Plans, Lt. Gen. Nakibus Lakara, at a three-day gender
awareness training for military officers held in the Somali capital,
Lt. Gen. Lakara noted that women are endowed with unique abilities
that make their role critical to the success of peacekeeping operations.
“Women peacekeepers have a way of establishing ties with their fellow
womenfolk in a culturally sensitive society such as the Somali
society,” he observed, adding that apart from fostering cordial
relations with host communities, women peacekeepers have vital skills in
information gathering, critical for the effective functioning of the
The training, which ended yesterday, brought together 27 gender focal
points, who act as resource persons on gender issues in AMISOM sectors.
The focal points were taken through various topics, among them,
conflict-related sexual violence; international, regional and national
frameworks on human rights; gender equality and parity; sexual
exploitation and abuse and roles of gender focal points persons.
Lt. Gen. Lakara urged African communities to abandon traditional
practices and prejudices that impede women from joining the military to
enable them effectively contribute to global peace and stability.
“In some African communities it was a taboo for women to join the
military but this is a stigma that we need to get rid of so that the
women can play an appropriate role in peace support operations,” he
According to the United Nations, female peacekeepers act as role
models in the local environment, inspiring women and girls in often
male-dominated societies to push for their own rights and for
participation in peace processes.
Despite their importance, the number of women in peacekeeping
operations is still low due to gender imbalance in disciplined forces.
As a result, both the African Union and the United Nations are now
encouraging troop-contributing countries to deploy more women to
uniformed functions to increase their participation in peacekeeping
Lt. Gen. Lakara challenged the officers to put into good use the
knowledge acquired from the training to help the AU Mission achieve its
mandate of securing Somalia.
Participants, who spoke at the end of the training, said the course expanded their knowledge and understanding of gender issues.
“I have learned a lot about gender and I am going to share the
knowledge acquired with my colleagues back in the sectors,” Lt.
Mwanaisha Mahu, of the Kenya Defence Forces stated.
Lt. Mahu’s sentiments were echoed by her colleague from the Uganda
People’s Defence Force, Lt. Dickson Mbizukire, who said the training
will help in mainstreaming gender issues in the sectors.