The need for gender to be enshrined in the security sector policies have been echoed at a one day dialogue organized by Medica Liberia on the Gender Mainstreaming in Monrovia recently.
The dialogue held under the theme: “Mainstreaming Gender within the Security Sector, Taking stock of the gains and gaps identifying ways forward” focused on efforts to strengthen and support the Gender and Security Sector Taskforce to enable continued participation of women in security sector reform decision-making, planning, implementation and oversight.
The UNDP sponsored program coded “Inclusive Security, nothing for us without us”, assures achievable through the enhanced capacity and operations of gender units and gender focal points trained by Medica Liberia.
Members of the Security sector working group include Liberia National Police (LNP), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), National Fire Service (NFS), Ministry of National Defense (MOJ), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and the Liberia National Commission of Small Arms (LiNCSA), Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MoGSCP), among others.
Liberia has signed unto several international instruments which call for the protection of women rights and human in all sectors. Prominent among them is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for which the country is struggling to meet its international mandate.
Forming alliances and building up a gender-sensitive security force through set policies and thorough monitoring would help Liberia achieve some of its goals with CEDAW.
Speaking during the dialogue, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Williametta Tarr stressed the need for government to conform legal frameworks to the protection of women rights at all levels.
Min. Tarr indicated that mainstreaming gender into the security sector will help renew calls for the full participation of women especially in peacebuilding and bridge gender gap in the force.
Liberia’s Minister of Justice, Cllr. Musa Dean stated that Liberia has made tremendous efforts in combating gender issues but there is a need to keep accelerating efforts.
Cllr. Dean stressed the need for the sustainability of said program in the absence of donor fatigue, which he believed will strengthen the sector in responding to issues of crimes.
As the joint security chief of Liberia, Cllr Dean pledged his commitment to mainstreaming gender in the sector as a means to bridge gaps in responding to gender issues.
“We want our security force to remain uncompromising with crimes especially to protect women and girls because they are more vulnerable and it is important that we keep stuck of gender issues in the sector because it helps you plan and find ways to move forward”, he said.
Police Deputy Inspector General Sadiatu Reeves averred that women need to be represented at the Security Council level in order to raise issues pertaining to gender and strike a balance.
Deputy Police Chief Reeves boasted of championing the gender at the LNP and instituting policies which conform to helping both sexes at all levels in the force, “The LNP can now boast of a gender policy which centers on equal treatment for all officers ranging from maternal and paternal leaves, opportunity for women to continue education while in the force, among other things”.
The Deputy Police IG point was buttressed by Deputy Justice Minister Juah Cassell who admitted to the lack of a gender policy within the Justice Ministry, something she said will be fast-tracked shortly.
Min. Cassell believed that the policy will enable women to know their rights and demand respect within their place of work noting that information sharing plays a pivotal role in achieving results from the policy.
She commended Medica Liberia for such initiative and challenged other security institutions to ensure that gender mainstreaming remains a top priority to achieving the pro-poor agenda.
Currently, most security taskforce members institutions lack gender policies namely Fire Service, Ministry of Justice among others.
In an interview with the Medica Liberia UNDP Gender Mainstreaming Program consultant, Abla Williams hoped that the program will achieve its intended purpose if security institutions will align their policy with gender as a means of getting all involved and equally treated.
Madam Williams pledged Medica Liberia fullest commitment and partnership to ensure taskforce members institutionalized gender policies at the security sector level.