Wednesday 25 November 2020


The very first Annual Forum on Women in the Security Sector was held in Abuja between the 19th and 20th of November 2020 @ the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre & Suites. The theme was - 'UNSCR @ 20: Present realities & future opportunities'. I was a stakeholder at the conference jointly sponsored Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMWA), the Nigerian Army & UN Women. Some of the participants were:

*Dame Pauline Tallen - Minister of Women Affairs

*Ms. Comfort Lamptey - UN Women Country Representative

*Dr. Ifeoma Anyanwutaku - Permanent Secretary, FMWA

*Brigadier-General Christine Thomas - Gender Advisor, Defense Headquarters, Abuja

*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Independent Consultant/Conflict Transformation & Gender Expert

*Dr. Julie Sanda - National Defense/Keynote Speaker

*Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi - Consultant

*Ms. Ene Ede - Coordinator, VAPP, FCT

L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Brigadier-General Christine Thomas (Gender Advisor, Defense Headquarters, Abuja).

The objectives of the conference, which built on the policy dialogue held with the Reference Group on Gender Responsive Security Sector were:

*To serve as a platform for identifying gaps/issues and strategic opportunities to increase women's meaningful participation in the security sector.

*To exchange experiences, challenges and good practice for designing and implementing GB policies, and identify specific needs across various institutions'

*To provide an opportunity for women in the security sector to share their lived experiences and contribute to a participatory process in advancing gender balance.

*To serve as a platform for advocacy for advancing GB in the security sector, including through developing and presenting policy recommendations to senior-level decision makers... 

Advancing gender balance in Security Sector Institutions (SSIs) was identified as a key strategy for enhancing gender-responsive Security Sector Reform (SSR). A positive consequence of this is gender mainstreaming (GM). GM focuses on ensuring the needs, experiences and perspectives of women,  men, girls and boys are integrated into SSR. Gender balance (GB) focuses on measures to promote the equal participation of women and men in security establishments/forces across functions and at all levels in the hierarchy with the support of women's organisations. Specific interventions include reviewing recruitment policies and employment terms to ensure they are not discriminatory. Networks should also be created to serve as the platform for gender balance.

The importance of implementing measures to advance GB as part of a gender-responsive SSR has been recognised in key global normative frameworks:

*The Peace & Security Agenda's first resolution, UNSCR 1325 (2000) referred to women's participation in the security sector, whilst

*UNSCR 1820 (2008) specifically underlines the need for women's engagement in SSR and associated SSI processes. In addition, the 

*UNSCR 2151 (2014), the first UNSCR on SSR, emphasises the importance of women's equal, effective and full involvement in SSR.

In Nigeria, both the first and second National Action Plans (NAPs)on UNSCR 1325 have emphasised the increased participation (in numbers, roles and seniority) of women  in SSIs. The first NAP indicated that the target for women's participation should be 35%, in line with the National Gender Policy (NGP). It is worthy of note that Nigeria's security sector is engaged in multiple conflict theatres. As a result, violence against women & girls (VAW&G) and other human rights violations against vulnerable persons are pervasive. In this context, the importance of a gender-balanced security sector cannot be overemphasised. 

I look forward to the second edition of the conference next year... 

Related Links

*Women peace-builders essential for sustainable world peace
*VE & gender in Central Sahel: Dodmatism or Pragmatism
*Policy Brief Series: WPS & the Generation Equality Action Coalitions
*Tanzania's new female President, Samia Hassan, brings new hope to women in East Africa
*The missing piece: athers' role in stemming youth radicalisation
*Empowered women create a more peaceful world
*Women's recruitment into the security sector by Catherine White 



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