The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has concluded gender awareness training for Somali police officers in four regional states in Somalia, to help broaden their knowledge on human rights.
Over 98 police officers and other security personnel were trained in Kismayo, Baidoa, Beletweyne, the administrative capitals of Jubbaland, South West states and Hiiraan region respectively, with the most recent being in Adado, the headquarters of Galmudug state.
The sessions in the four states drew participants-both security and civilians in key ministries in the security sector, who in the course of the training, engaged in vigorous discussions on issues of gender and human rights.
Stella Maranga, the AMISOM Gender Officer said the purpose of the workshops was to highlight issues of gender to the participants, to enable them handle such matters in their daily duties.
“We have been conducting a series of trainings for the Somalia security sector; these trainings are targeting members of the security sector from the CID, the police, NISA, the military and also the civilians who work in the ministries that are related to the security sector,” Ms. Maranga said.
The AMISOM Gender Office added that the objective of the trainings is to try and sensitize the members of the military and the security forces on the importance of gender and respect for human rights.
Hassan Hussein Hassan, one of the resource persons in Beletweyne was optimistic that the training, the fourth to be conducted, will greatly benefit the participants.
“They learned a wide range of issues including the relations between Islam and gender, the connection of gender with Somali culture and in general the view of Somalis on gender,” Hassan explained.
In Baidoa15 participants from the military and intelligence, 12 from the police and 11 civilians attended the meeting.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Fatima Abdirahman Mohamed, the South West State Deputy Minister for Women and Human Rights underscored the need for more training, to enable the security forces curb abuses against women and girls.
“We are grateful to AMISOM and British Embassy which funded the training. This training has been useful as different sections of the society have benefited from it and I hope they will share with their colleagues whatever they learnt here. We appeal for similar trainings so that new people can gain skills,” Ms. Mohamed said.
Faiza Abdirahman Ali, one of the participants, from the Ministry of Women and Human Rights, thanked the organisers, noting that the knowledge gained from the training will help participants execute their duties.
“We gained a lot from the seminar. Gender abuse takes many forms, the first being torture, FGM [female Genital Mutilation] and other unacceptable behaviours. The other is rape and the other abuses against women. We learnt a lot from this workshop and hope to use what we learnt in our work and share with other people,” Ms. Ali stated.
In Kismayo, apart from bringing together different players in the security sector to discuss gender issues, the training also highlighted the cross cutting nature of gender issues.
“What we have learnt is that gender issues in Somalia are quite similar to gender issues in other countries in Africa, and in Kismayo it looks like the gender focal points are really working hard to sensitize communities on gender issues,” Ms. Maranga stated.
Capt. Jibril Mohamed Hassan, one of the participants, noted that the training in Kismayo had helped demystify perceptions surrounding gender issues and how society treats women.
“This training has changed me. It has changed the perceptions and thoughts I had about gender, especially the way we used to treat women. We found out that men and women have equal rights, that is, the right to education, right to employment and right for medical care and other things that we did not know,” Capt. Hassan noted.
The trainings are part of AMISOM’s elaborate programme to help professionalise the Somali security forces and make it effective in maintaining law and order.