Ghana Navy’s First Female Commanding Officer Inspires Others

UNMISS via Flickr
June 20, 2024

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has women in all branches of the GAF, including combat. The GAF has long prided itself in gender equality and policies to integrate women into the military – the first female officer was enlisted in 1958. Lt. Cdr. Priscilla Ami Dogbeda Dzokoto, the first female commanding officer of a Ghana Navy ship, embodies the GAF’s success.

“We have had females be generals. We have had females be appointed as commanding officers of several units in the armed forces now,” she said in a United Nations video posted on March 31. “There’s more room for more women to be appointed in higher positions in the armed forces.”

“As a commanding officer, my role is the safe navigation and technical operation of the ship,” she said. “If you go out to sea, I am responsible for everything concerning the ship.”

In rising through the ranks, Dzokoto has served in many capacities, including as a navigation officer, assistant navigation officer, communication officer, acting executive officer, correspondence officer and watch-keeping officer. She also served as a military observer with the U.N. Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) in 2020.

The GAF launched a comprehensive gender policy on March 15 and has worked to increase female enlistment.

Ghana Navy Capt. Veronica Adzo, gender policy advisor to Chief of the Defense Staff Maj. Gen. Thomas Oppong-Peprah, has seen increasing opportunities for women in the GAF. “It has given a lot more women the courage, the can-do spirit,” she said in the U.N. video. “Going forward we believe that the young woman out there has every opportunity in the military … not limited to only administration but every branch of the Ghana Armed Forces.”

Ghanaian Cdre. Faustina Anokye, former deputy force commander for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara known as MINURSO said: “The world will be a better place with gender equality. We should therefore continue to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to biases and seek out inclusion.”

Adzo praised Dzokoto as a trailblazer for taking command in a branch of the GAF that historically has been served by male Sailors and officers since its founding in 1959.

“It is difficult working in a male-dominated environment such as the Ghana Armed Forces,” she said. “That is why the military high command decided to take the issue of gender mainstreaming a notch higher — to see to it that the agenda is carried out successfully.”

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