The first phase of a United Nations Staff Officer Course (UNSOC) aimed at enhancing the capabilities of female officers to participate in peacekeeping missions has opened in Accra.
The three-week course, which is being funded by the Canadian government under the Elsie Initiative Programme for Women in Peace Operations, is being organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in collaboration with the Women Peace and Security Institute (WPSI) of KAIPTC.
The course is designed to equip prospective UN staff officers within the ranks of Captain to Lieutenant Colonel and equivalent with the knowledge, skills and techniques they need to discharge their duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently in UN and regional peace operations.
A total of 31 participants are taking part in the course, including 21 female officers and 10 male officers.
At the opening ceremony, the Political and Public Affairs Counsellor at the Canadian High Commission in Ghana, Grace Lee, said a lot of barriers continue to obstruct the meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping.
She said Canada believed that women in military and police service should benefit equally from deployment opportunities to UN peace operations, as they broaden the range of skills, diversity, and capacities available to UN peace operations.
Through the Elsie Initiative, the GAF, Ms Lee said, completed and published the results of the barriers assessment on Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations (MOWIP) to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing military and police women in deploying to UN peacekeeping missions.
“The findings of the MOWIP report is what has informed this training to further boost GAF’s achievements by identifying key recommendations by the report and translating them into policies, initiatives and activities that will effectively address the barriers to women’s participation in peacekeeping,” Ms Lee said.
The nature of peacekeeping, she said, has evolved and become more complex over time, hence it is essential for both men and women to acquire relevant skills, expertise and best practices in the domain of staff duties to make missions successful.
The Commandant of KAIPTC, Major General Richard Addo Gyane, in a speech read on his behalf by then Deputy Commandant, Air Commodore George Arko-Dadzie, said the course was essential for the GAF to be able to effectively meet the challenges of peacekeeping in the 21st century.
Major General Gyane said it was no secret that the African continent was still battling with a number of armed conflicts, which are hindering its peace, democracy and development
“Peacekeeping missions are the key instruments used in dealing with these inter and intra state conflicts.
Therefore training of personnel remains key in achieving the desired goal of attaining peace and development within the continent,” he said.
The Director General of International Peace Support Operations of the GAF, Brigadier General Winfried Dzandu-Hedidor, commended the Canadian High Commission for its support towards the project.
He said the UNSOC course was a valuable opportunity for female officers to gain the skills and experience they needed to be successful in UN peacekeeping missions.