The G5 Sahel encourages more women in its Defense and Security Forces

  
        The workshop  was organized with the financial support of the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany  as well as Norway and the European Union (via OHCHR).

Strengthening of equal opportunities for men and women has become key requirement for peace and development, for the fight against poverty and for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has become essential to mainstream a gender perspective in conflict prevention and resolution in the Sahel region, as often women and children are the main victims of the ongoing conflicts. The implication and the effective participation of women is crucial to address security challenges in the Sahel.

Although a dialogue has already been initiated to ensure the participation of women at all levels in the prevention and fight against violent extremism and organized crime, the consolidation of peace and security in the Sahel, there is still a very limited amount of women in the G5 Sahel Joint Force and its Police Component (respectively 0.35% and 6%).

Gender mainstreaming and gender-sensitive needs are necessary to ensure true equality of opportunity between women and men, in addition to the social and cultural issues that still affect women's careers in the G5 Sahel defense and security forces (DSF).

In this context, the Permanent Secretary of the G5 Sahel in partnership with the UNODC and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), organized a reflection workshop at the Defence College of the G5 Sahel in Nouakchott (Mauritania), from 3 to 5 September 2019, on " strengthening the presence of women in the G5 Sahel defense and security structures". This has been the first event of this magnitude organized by the G5 and devoted exclusively to the matter of the presence of women in uniform in the G5 Sahel defence and security structures.

The workshop was opened by the Permanent Secretary of the G5 Sahel, Mr. Maman Sambo Sidikou, the Mauritanian Minister of Social Affairs, Children and the Family, Dr. Neina Kane, the Minister of Defense General Hanena Ould Sidi and the Resident Coordinator a.i of the United Nations in Mauritania, Mr. Nacer Benalleg. The workshop brought together 70 participants, including 25 women, from Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, representing the defence and security forces. Experts in gender and security as well as technical and financial partners also participated.

 

                               
   
Participants of the workshop in Nouakchott

The main objectives of this event were to promote the participation of women in DSF, as an operational strategy to strengthen their effectiveness and legitimacy; to identify and analyse key challenges regarding access to the profession, retention and women's careers in the G5 Sahel's defence and security structures; and finally to shape solutions that can increase women's representation.

During the three days of workshop, the participants presented an overview of the presence of women in their DSF, as well as in the G5 Sahel Joint Force and its Police Component. A panel of eight women in uniform helped to identify the difficulties and obstacles encountered, particularly the "socio-cultural burdens", as explained by Commander Issaka Ousmane Aichatou. The strategic and operational benefits of the presence of women in the DSF were developed by a delegation from Burkina Faso and the head of the police component of MINUSMA, Mr. Issoufou Yacouba. Mr. Luis Carillho, Director of the United Nations Police Division, shared existing initiatives to promote women's leadership in DSF. G5 Sahel Permanent Secretary, Maman Sidikou invited the participants to become true "Gender champions" in the fight against violent extremism and organized crime. Finally, this workshop provided an excellent opportunity to present the new UNODC's Handbook on gender dimensions of criminal justice responses to terrorism.

   
  Women in uniform with Mr. Maman Sidikou.
 
     Women in uniform in a worksession during the workshop.

 

The working group sessions on the access to the profession and to trainings led to the adoption of recommendation to effectively integrate women into G5 defense and security structures. The recommendations adopted will be brought to the highest instances of the G5 Sahel, as well as to the member states. An action plan will be implemented by the G5 Sahel Permanent Secretariat through its gender advisor, Ms. Aminata Ndiaye, to ensure monitoring. 

This initiative reflects the efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 16, respectively, on "gender equality" and "peace, justice and effective institutions" and the UN resolutions on "women and peace and security " as well as the increased efforts to integrate the gender dimensions in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

The workshop  was organized with the financial support of the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany as well as Norway and the European Union (via OHCHR), under the UNODC Sahel Programme, which supports the development of a more accessible, accountable and effective criminal justice system. Support to the Security Cooperation Platform (PCMS) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force Police Component is provided under this Program, in cooperation with United Nations agencies and other partners (OHCHR, MINUSMA, European Union, Interpol, GIZ, etc.).

 

For more information:

UNODC Sahel Programme

UNODC Contribution to the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel

Sahel: Governments achieve positive results with UN support

UNODC Sahel Programme reaches 10,000 beneficiaries

UN Resolutions on Peace and Security