The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) started a two-day meeting in Mogadishu on Wednesday to review and update its gender strategy plan aimed at empowering Somalis on gender issues.

The current plan, formulated in 2012 to help AMISOM integrate gender issues in its activities in compliance with the AU Constitutive Act and the various United Nations Security Council mandates, expires in December.

In his opening remarks, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia Francisco Madeira told the participants to ensure the updated strategy is not only aligned to the mission’s mandate but also focuses on empowering Somalis on gender issues.

“I am looking forward to seeing an updated gender strategy that responds to the latest mandate of AMISOM, the Comprehensive Approach to Security, and the knowledge that AMISOM has an exit strategy which underlines the imperative of transferring all pertinent skills to the Somalis,” Madeira said.

Madeira hailed the AMISOM Gender Unit for a job well done, noting that the strategy under review had registered tremendous success, which included, among others, advocating for Somali women’s participation in politics and highlighting the importance of women in peacekeeping.

“AMISOM actively worked to further the participation of Somali women in the electoral process and this appropriately led to a significant increase in female representation across the political spectrum of Somalia,” he said.

The number of women peacekeepers serving in the AMISOM military component has increased from 10 to 741 over the past decade, while the police component has managed to maintain the percentage of women peacekeepers at 20 percent, Madeira.

Other achievements under the strategy include the creation of a hotline to report sexual violence and abuse, gender training and sensitization of troops, implementation of measures and guidelines to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, and the continuous improvement of facilities within AMISOM to address women’s needs.

The UN Security Council in August extended the mandate of AMISOM to May 31, 2018, and approved a reduction of the size of its uniformed personnel to 21,626 by Dec. 31, as it plans for a gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali security forces. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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