"At a fundamental level, integrating a gender perspective in security sector reform means asking questions such as: How is security defined by people? Whose security are we talking about? Who should legitimately participate in decision-making within the security sector? Why are women not involved? How are they affected by the decisions made by the decision makers? How can the security sector play a role in changing negative gender stereotypes and cultures of violence? In doing so, I want to refer to a quick random interview that I conducted in Marjay Town, a peri-urban area of Freetown. The interview targeted ordinary Sierra Leoneans, people who are greatly affected by these decisions including women, men, teenage boys and girls. What came out of this interview was very interesting and form the basis of my recommendations herewith. Mrs. Mary Gbassa, a house wife in Freetown, defined security as a safe and free environment where women and children are allowed to move freely with no fear of attack, intimidation, sexual violence, kidnapping, etc. A situation where people have enough to eat, to send their children to school, or to pay for medical services at all times. Asked to make two very important security recommendations, Mrs. Gbassa said (in very strong terms) "I will beg people in authority to put mechanisms in place to allow women and girls to move freely without fear of been raped or physically attacked by adult men. Secondly, I will ask that they support women to be economically empowered (especially war widows) to enable them to provide food, send their children to school and pay for medical services."
Biography of Gladys Brima, Women in Peacebuilding Program, Sierra Leone
Gladys Brima is involved with the Women in Peacebuilding Program in Sierra Leone and joined the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security in 2007 to speak to Peacebuilding Commission members during a high-level roundtable regarding the gender dimension of peacebuilding in Sierra Leone and Burundi. Participants heard directly from Ms. Brima, key national governments and UN representatives as part of a wider effort to enhance communication between local women’s organizations and decision-makers in the countries on the Peacebuilding Commission’s agenda.
Enhancing Security and the Rule of Law: Recommendations on Gender, Security and the PBC in Sierra Leone
Presented by Gladys Brima, Women in Peacebuilding Program, Sierra Leone