The United Nations in Sierra Leone (UN-SL) and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) are working towards having 30% of women represented at peacekeeping deployment and all other levels of the Force.

It is an initiative that aligns with the 2022 Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment law.

Isaac Ahemesah, the UNAIDS Country Director and Resident Coordinator ad interim, at the launch of the Barrier Assessment Report on Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations at Sierra Palms Hotel, commends the SLP for their successful efforts in increasing the number of women within their ranks. Currently, women constitute nearly 25% of the Sierra Leone Police.

He emphasized the importance of women’s increased participation in peacekeeping operations, citing its positive impact on mission effectiveness, enhanced access to local communities (particularly women), and better promotion of human rights and civilian protection.

The report identifies ten major barriers hindering women’s meaningful participation in UN peace support operations and proposes recommendations to overcome these challenges.

Both UN Women and the Sierra Leone Police express their commitment to jointly work towards achieving the Gender Equality Act’s goals, acknowledging that it may involve legal reforms, policies, and long-term engagement.

UN Women’s Head of Office, Setcheme Mongbo, praised the SLP’s commitment to gender-responsive policies and schemes.

The assessment report aims to understand the barriers limiting women’s deployment in multinational UN Peace Support Operations and offers a pathway to increase operational effectiveness for women peacekeepers.

The Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Mustapha Kamara representing the Inspector General of Police at the lunch, acknowledged the challenges highlighted in the report and assured their commitment to addressing them.

He emphasized the importance of reflecting on the society the police are serving as ambassadors of the laws they implement.

Ms. Valnora Edwin, President of the Africa Women Leaders Network, chaired the event and congratulated the SLP on their commendable efforts.

Deborah Warren-Smith of the Elsie Initiative Fund and the ambassadors of Ghana and Germany also made statements during the occasion.

With this joint effort between the UN and the Sierra Leone Police, there is optimism for increased women’s participation and representation in all levels of peace operations, ensuring a more inclusive and effective approach to global peacekeeping initiatives.