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UL, IAGP hold conference on Gender Mainstreaming in security sector

The University of Liberia (UL) and Nigerian-based International Academy for Gender and Peace (IAGP) have begun a two-day West Africa Regional Conference on mainstreaming gender in the security sector in Africa.

Held in the Auditorium of UL’s Capitol Hill campus, the conference runs from March 30 to 31, 2023.

It brings together regional and national security and government officials, academic administrators, faculty, staff and students, and members of the public, among others.

Issues affecting women in the security sector, strengthening gender equality in the security sector, and promoting women’s participation in key leadership roles in the security service are part of discussions at the conference.

Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps Commandant General, Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi delivered the keynote address on the first day of the conference Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Dr. Audi explained that the developmental wreckage in West Africa as a result of conflicts cannot be over-emphasized due to its devastating nature.

He said the raison d’etat of most conflicts in West Africa is the absence of a standard means of measuring qualitative well-being which contributed to the failures of some states in the past.

He detailed that the outcome of the past and causes of the present crisis in West Africa have revealed that human insecurity and developmental crises can switch places.

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“Both are human-centered with the ability to cause conflicts and can alternate with the other to be effective in solving humanitarian concerns,” he said.

He argued that the West is aware that Africa is a region that is endowed with both natural and human resources.

However, he accused the Westerners of causing confusion so that they will continue to feast on Africa’s resources.

Additionally, he said African leaders have not been able to realize this and they don’t have the power to do much because of the collaboration that exists between them and the Western leaders.

The University of Liberia Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Moses Zinnah said at the end of the conference, UL and IAGP will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin the process of developing curricula.

He added that practically, they will attempt to sign the MOU that will be approved by the Senate to establish a training program that is demand-driven in the areas of Gender, Peace, and Security.

Dr. Zinnah said within less than a year after the signing of the MOU, it is hoped that they will make this a practical initiative.

Representing UL President Prof. Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson, Dr. Zinnah disclosed that the UL President and the University in general, place a lot of premium on the conference, and the education of law enforcement personnel in various units.

“We want to make sure that coming out of this conference will be some practical steps to [make] this happen,” he said. 

“We are taking advantage of bringing to bed demand-driven programs that the state, the country, the sub-region, and of course, the global community will require,” said Dr. Zinnah.

Earlier, UL Associate Prof. Weade Konnah-Boley, Chairperson of the conference planning committee, said the conference is a collaborative endeavor by UL and IAGP.

Prof. Boley said UL is extremely proud to host this conference which brings together participants from the security sector, civil society, and academia.

She said participants will deliberate on strengthening the relations between males and females in the military and paramilitary agencies in the delivery of gender, peace, and security strategies across West Africa.

Dr. Nathaniel B. Walker, Political Advisor of ECOWAS Mission in Liberia, thanked UL and IAGP for their farsightedness in organizing the regional conference.

He noted that the overall purpose of the collaboration and the specifics of the conference is of great importance and concerns the leadership of ECOWAS and the citizens of the sub-region.

Local County Senator Hon. Steve Zargo said the impact of war on women is well-documented, and as such, the Government and People of Liberia are happy to welcome everyone at the regional conference.

He said the regional conference is held in anticipation of developing a curriculum for offering specialized training.

“This collaborative venture is welcomed. Liberia, like I said, the University of Liberia feels honored to host this West Africa regional conference,” he said.

For his part, Grand Gedeh County Rep. Dr. George Boley said everyone knows what happened in Liberia, and what is ongoing in West Africa.

He stressed the need to build the country on the quality of education, saying unless there is trained personnel, “we are not doing ourselves any favor.”

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