Beating the odds – ‘The woman possibility’ example
Having beaten the odds and set the pace for other Ghanaian men and women, Captain Cecilia Erzuah won the 2022 United Nations (UN) Military Gender Advocate Award in May.
The 32-year-old peacekeeper, who is the first Ghanaian to receive the award, was recognized for her role in mainstreaming gender perspectives in her peacekeeping duties in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Captain Erzuah was deployed in March 2022 to serve under the UN Interim Security Forces in Abyei (UNISFA) as the Commander of the Ghanaian Engagement Platoon.
She led patrols and outreach to local leaders, women, and youth groups to better understand and help address their concerns and needs. She also hosted discussions on domestic violence, gender equality, and childcare.
Her work reportedly increased the number of women in Community Protection Committees, improved the early warning system, and protected civilians.
“In my line of work, what I basically did was that my platoon, which is responsible for community interaction, key leadership interaction, and giving feedback on our activities to the community and vice versa, was made up of a mix of genders—so I had equal numbers of men and women.”
“Then, in interacting with members of our community, I made a conscious effort to interact with men and women alike. I also lived exemplarily for my colleagues and subordinates,” she stated.
Significance of the Award
According to Captain Erzuah, the award meant a lot to her as a military officer and a woman in uniform, as it was the beginning of “greater things” and a new phase of influence on her colleagues and other women.
“So as I have won this award, it is going to propel other women in uniform to also give their best and be possible winners of similar awards in the near future,” she said.
This infers that women can do just as well as men when given the same opportunities.
As such, not only will empowering women enable them to unleash their potential, but it will also make them a part of the peace processes and make the work of peacekeepers easier.
“We all know that gender issues have become very important in our world today because if we are able to empower both men and women, then these people will be able to use their abilities and gifts to promote peace and development,” Captain Erzuah said.
Captain Erzuah encouraged women, particularly those wanting to join the security services, to go for it, as the times for relegating women to the background are a thing of the past.
She said women have to be confident and unleash their potential, as they are good mediators needed in numerous peace discussions.
“Our efforts and abilities are needed in the military and paramilitary institutions. So go for it, as one thing that kept me going in the training school was the fact that someone had been in my position and was successful, so I could also be successful,” she added.
Captain Erzuah said that was because many women were needed on board to ensure that the services had equal numbers.
Born to Mr John Asibi Erzuah and Madam Elizabeth Dadzie, Captain Erzuah is the second of four children and hails from Apam in the Central Region.
She had her basic education at the Victory Presbyterian School in Adenta, Accra, and read General Arts at the Ghana National College in Cape Coast for her secondary education.
Captain Erzuah then proceeded to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in History. In 2015, she was enlisted into the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and commissioned in 2016 as a military officer.
Captain Erzuah had her first peace support experience in 2019 with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and joined the battalion as the Engagement Platoon Commander to the UN Security Forces for Abyei in 2022 where she was nominated for the 2022 UN Gender Advocate Award.
Meanwhile, Captain Erzuah, at her leisure, loves to design and sew for herself, her family, friends, and clients.
The Peace Agenda—“It begins with me”
Captain Erzuah believes that if all Ghanaians become ambassadors of peace, the country will continue to enjoy its tranquillity.
Stating that peace is a universal language that works effectively with love, she urged Ghanaians to sustain peace and love themselves.
“Every culture, race, country, or individual needs peace in order to thrive. No matter how educated, or developed they want to be, no matter the vision they have for the future, they cannot achieve much without peace.”