Consensus Building Workshop

Article and photos by AB Samuel Ramonyai

The Defence Review states: “Defence requires an education, training and development programme, linked to a doctrine regime, to mould its members into informed, competent and cohesive military professionals and operational excellence status across the spectrum of conflict.”

Equally, the Chief of Human Resources, Lt Gen Norman Yengeni, recently held a Consensus Building Workshop on the incorporation of gender perspectives and dynamics in all military development at the SA Army College in Thaba Tshwane. The workshop was attended by the nominated Officers Commanding, Staff Officers, Directing Staff, Warrant Officers and Instructors from various military services around South Africa.

The aim of the workshop was to construct consensus on the incorporation of gender perspectives and dynamics in all military courses as implored by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans in her 2015 Budget Vote.

The gender perspectives and dynamics were viewed in respect to the “W’s and H”. Therefore, the what: referred to the social roles respectively allocated to women and men in particular societies and particular times.

The why: stems from the Constitution of South Africa as it is grounded on the values of social justice, human dignity, the advancement of human rights and freedom, equal protection under the law, non-racialism and non-sexism.

In respect to the who: all and sundry were to understand that gender, must be mainstreamed in the military strategy and is applicable to all levels of the organisation. The when: was referred to considerations that must be integrated in all organisational processes regardless of the fact that some processes may appear to have nothing to do with the equality between women and men.

The how: must be contained in the organisations policies and strategies; institutional structures; force generation and service conditions, training, operations, logistics and infrastructure.

These “W’s and H” were broken down by various guest speakers from both military and civilian personnel in their presentations. The nominees deliberated on the issues emanating from presentations from the aforementioned speakers for the plenary discussion for the day long.

The General Officer Commanding Training Command, Maj Gen Lawrence Mbatha, who opened the platform for the speakers to follow, he presented about the contextualisation of the need of the Consensus Building.

In his presentation he highlighted a significant point that it is evident that women substantially contribute to the economy, social, security and political development of the country. He added that what is painful is that they continue not to benefit from economic growth and development. They continue to be outside the decision-making sphere and barely enjoying equal rights and respect as their male counterparts.

He further said that in the United Nations (UN), the commitment to gender equality can be traced to the 1948 UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states that rights and freedoms will not be limited by a person’s gender and establishes that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Prof Cheryl Hendricks from the University of Johannesburg presented about the importance of gender education within security sector. She mentioned that conflicts cannot be solved if half the population is not contributing to the solution and if their needs are ignored.

She said that there will always be a need to mainstream gender into military education. She strongly highlighted that women should be included in all training and courses from basic to executive. She added that women need to be integrated into the curriculum course plan. They should also be part of leadership or budgeting or operational planning classes as well.

Prof Hendricks said it is included in the curriculum that women should also know the basic concepts and national and international framework at all levels.

She further advised that women should also do Gender Advisors course which composes of five modules such as: understanding gender context, gender relationship to conflict, peace and security, gender equality in the international and local environment equality, the legal framework on protection of civilians and around gender equality and ethics, code of conduct, gender based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse.

Maj Gen Rudzani Maphwanya, the General Officer Commanding of SA Army Infantry Formation, gave a presentation about observation made on the performance of female soldiers in the SA Army Infantry Corps. He said: “Today we can claim that our government has tried to put gender equality. We train women to be successful leaders and we therefore train them to know the issues of men. Women cannot lead men if they do not know issues that guide and lead men.”

He added that they have set training in all their units. He mentioned that we must learn to accommodate women in everything we do. Maj Gen Maphwanya remarked that he has seen women doing what he thought they will not do; he therefore said the issue of discrimination as far as gender equality is concerned should immediately cease to exist in our minds. It is about time that women stop undermined by their male counterparts. He remarked that they have 2 183 women in command.

The Chief Director Human Resource Division, Maj Gen Ansuyah Fakir, concluded a workshop by giving a presentation about the role of education and training in the entrenchment of constitutional injunctions.

She said we have training providers in the Department of Defence, gender specialist and advisor to address: gender subject matter/module on course curricula, conduct regular training re-frame instructors paradigm as they are role models, monitor inappropriate terms and literature across modules, be the female advisor to the Officer Commanding and Commandant as well as to be coach and counsellor to the female learners.


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