In October 2000, the United Nations adopted Resolution 1325, Women, Peace and Security which among other things is aimed at increasing women’s participation and influence in peace processes around the world.
To date, gender equality is still considered one of the cut-crossing issues in all aspects of the MINUSMA’s mandate in its mission to support the Malian authorities in ensuring the full participation and representation of women at all levels.
This mandate goes as far as the beginning of the stabilization phase; including the context of the reform of the security sector, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, national political dialogue and reconciliation, thereby setting up a Gender Unit is based on Women, Peace and Security.
As a result of this gender inclusion in MINUSMA’s policies and strategies, interventions are made for the promotion of political participation of women as well as the prevention and response to violence against women especially with regards to conflict-related violence inclusive of actions against sexual violence and exploitations.
Among several females from Liberia who are performing their ‘duty to country’ in that far-away country from their families in what is termed as an extremely dangerous environment between landmines and spontaneous explosives in Timbuktu are, S/Sgt. Hawa B. Sumo, Sgt. Beverlyn Wratto, Cpl. Joan Teah; Sgt. Shelly Wrokpoh; Sgt. Dorcas Broh and Sgt. Patricia D. Lincoln.
Conscious of how their crucial yet sacrificial their contributions to ensuring that peace returns to Mali are and with the idea that the AFL is bent on enlisting more females in military but there is absolutely no need to lower the recruitment standards, S/Sgt. Sumo explained how proud she is being among other Liberian military personnel participating in the peacekeeping mission as a female and therefore called on more females to take up the challenge and put in more efforts to endure the training exercises without fear.
S/ Sgt. Sumo who got enlisted into the military and later served as the chief driver to the Minister of National Defense in Liberia said in the military, the training exercises are for everyone without discrimination and disregarding gender; urged her colleagues by pointing out that, “Nobody will push you if you do not push yourself; zero your minds and if you are finished with all the trainings and with focus you will make it. If I can make it, any of them can make it.”
Sumo said she had to take a walk-in decision to join the military because of her religious background; she did not want to involve her family after listening to the announcement about the recruitment process. She explained how she became successful in the process and was allowed to participate in all of the training exercises as equally as her male counterparts.
The Liberia Force Protection Company’s role is to provide security for the entire Sector West Area and Cpl. Joan Teah with vigilance joins her male counterparts to serve eight-hour guard up on a bunker totting weapon and providing early warning signs to the rest of the troops as required per shift.
Cpl. Teah joined the AFL since 2013 and said her motivation to wear Liberia’s flag is to serve her country because she saw other females serving their country through the army and that motivated her to join the mission in October 2019.
Sgt. Patricia Lincoln, for her part said she joined the army on November 10, 2007 and this decision has brought so much pride to her, recalling how on one of her vacations, her relatives were extremely happy of her decision to becoming a career woman who is able to fend for her family through the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
Sgt. Lincoln said others helped Liberia to be restored to peace therefore called on other women to join pointing out that the military is not difficult; it is left with them to put themselves in the game and get motivated to move ahead to fly the flag of Liberia high.
Sgt. Beverlyn Wratto Falegan, another female said it is the army that motivated her to becoming a public speaker with an Associate of Arts Degree in Secretariat Science and diploma in Computer Science thus making her a human resource specialist. Her current role in the military is that she is now a recruitment officer in the Human Resource Department.
Sgt. Falegan explained that today the army has made her family name recorded in the archives of the United Nations stating that the that females in the army are wives of the male soldiers is untrue because there is discipline in the army and high level of tolerance against sexual exploitation and sexual based violence.
Sgt. Shelly Wropkoh, a staff of the Medical Unit, who joined the AFL since 2008 thanked God for allowing her serve her country through the military adding that her coming into the military was with a mind set to serve and urged all females within the Republic to strive to serve because it is a good thing for women to join the military thereby encouraging females to make up their minds to reach their goals because laziness will not bring about any success.
Sgt. Dorcas Broh, an officer within the Transport Unit of the AFL also serving on the mission in Mali, thanked the former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stating that it was during that tenure that she got enlisted into the national army.
She therefore encouraged other women to join the AFL explaining how she travelled to the Netherlands and was proud to carry the flag of Liberia and today she is proud to be on the mission in Mali to participate in peacekeeping with other gallant officers. C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy writes