As peacekeeping operations by the United Nations (UN) have evolved, so have the deployment of women in these operations. In 1993, women made up 1% of deployed uniformed personnel. In 2020, out of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers, women constituted 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units and 34% of justice and corrections government-provided personnel in the UN Peacekeeping missions. Women peacekeepers improve overall peacekeeping performance, have greater access to communities, help in promoting human rights and the protection of civilians, and encourage women to become a meaningful part of peace and political processes.

While the UN encourages and advocates for the deployment of women to uniformed functions, the responsibility for deployment of women in the police and military lies with the Member States. Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement recognize the indispensable role of women in increasing the overall performance and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. NAM Member States further recognize that a better balance between men and women among peacekeepers contributes to, among others, greater credibility of the missions among the population.

NAM Member States have taken the leading initiative in calling for a greater representation of women in the UN peacekeeping operations. Under the Indonesian Presidency, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2538 (2020) on female personnel in the UN peacekeeping missions by consensus on August 28, 2020. This resolution can be hailed as Indonesia’s concrete contribution to peace diplomacy. “Resolution 2538 (2020) is the first resolution in the history of Indonesian diplomacy in the UNSC. This is also Indonesia’s contribution to enhancing the role of women as agents of peace, especially in UN peacekeeping missions,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi had remarked when Resolution 2538 was adopted.

India, another prominent NAM Member State co-sponsored the Resolution. India’s Permanent Mission to United Nations informed that in the line of the priorities that India has set for itself, during its tenure in the Security Council starting 2021, the country will continue to push for the increased involvement of women in all the areas. India has a cherished history of sending women peacekeepers. In 2007, India became the first country to send all-women Formed Police Unit to Liberia. Also in 2020, Major Suman Gawani had won the UN Military Gender Advocate Award. She was deployed in United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNIMSS). India’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations said that it was “proud” to support the resolution put forth by Indonesia and will continue to push for greater involvement of women in all areas.

Resolution 2538 (2020) stresses that that promoting increased women’s participation in peacekeeping operations requires collective commitment and concerted efforts by all Member States and the United Nations Secretariat, and should be supported with appropriate resources.

The Resolution also underscores the importance of the safety and security of peacekeepers, including women peacekeepers, in the field and the need for the Secretary-General and Troop- and Police-Contributing Countries and the Member States to work together to ensure that missions are adequately resourced and all peacekeepers in the field are willing, capable and equipped effectively and safely to implement their mandate.

The Resolution also encourages the Member States to develop strategies and measures to increase the deployment of uniformed women to peacekeeping operations, including by: (a) Disseminating information about and providing access to deployment opportunities for women personnel, including for senior positions; (b) Providing access to training for uniformed women personnel, and ensuring that trained uniformed women are deployed for peacekeeping operations; (c) Developing a national database of trained women personnel interested in and available for nomination and deployment; (d) Identifying and addressing barriers in the recruitment, deployment, and promotion of uniformed women peacekeepers; (e) Considering ways, as appropriate, to increase the participation of women in national militaries and police; (f) Supporting the capacities of regional organisations in training uniformed women; and (g) Taking measures to provide support and incentives including child care and other relevant needs. The Resolution encourages the Member States to strengthen cooperation to support greater participation of women in peacekeeping operations, including through sharing best practices for recruitment, retention, training, and deployment of uniformed women. Further, it also encourages cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations in advancing greater participation and role of women in peacekeeping operations.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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