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India Deploys Largest Single Unit Of Women Peacekeepers In UN Mission: Role Of Women In Effective Peacekeeping

Women have been an important part of the UN Peacekeeping family and are actively involved to make all operations effective. To ensure there is a positive impact on the peacekeeping environment, they have been deployed in numerous areas. Not only do they vouch to build peace, but they are the flagbearer of women's rights as well. Time and again they have proved that they can maintain the same standards as their male counterparts, even when the situations are extremely demanding.

India is ready to deploy a platoon of Women Peacekeepers in Sudan's Abyei region today as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force (UNISFA). This will be India's largest single unit of women Peacekeepers in a UN Mission since it deployed the first-ever all-women contingent in Liberia in 2007, stated the Permanent Mission of India to the UN press release.

According to the UN website, in 1993, women made up 1% of deployed uniformed personnel. In 2020, out of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers, women constitute 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units and 34% of justice and corrections government-provided personnel in UN Peacekeeping missions. However, the 2028 target for women serving in formed police units is 20% and 30% for individual police officers.

Reports state that, in 2007, the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission was India.

The press release also mentioned that the Indian contingent, comprising two officers and 25 Other Ranks, will form part of an Engagement platoon and specialize in Community outreach, though they will be performing extensive security-related tasks as well.

Their presence will be especially welcome in Abyei, where a recent spurt in violence has triggered a spate of challenging humanitarian concerns for women and children in the conflict zone.

The deployment in Abyei will also herald India's intent of increasing significantly the number of Indian women in Peacekeeping contingents, added the release. The operation has been tasked with monitoring the flashpoint border between north and south and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.

More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948, mentions, a report by ANI.

Why Is It Essential To Have Women Peacekeepers?

Women peacekeepers are being employed in large numbers to make peacekeeping more effective. Not only they are believed to have greater and better access to communities which help to not only protect civilians but promote human rights and also encourage women to take part in political and peace-building processes.

According to the UN website, these are reasons why women play an essential role when it comes to peacemaking.

1. Improved operations and performance: Women offer greater diversity and a broadened skillset and this means improved decision‐making, planning and results, leading to greater operational effectiveness and performance.

2. Better access: Women peacekeepers can better access the population, including women and children - for example, by interviewing and supporting survivors of gender-based violence and violence against children - thereby generating critical information that would otherwise be difficult to reach.

3. Reflecting the communities we serve: Diversity in United Nations peacekeepers allows engagement with all members of the communities we are there to protect.

4. Building trust and confidence: Women peacekeepers are essential enablers to build trust and confidence with local communities and help improve access and support for local women, for example, by interacting with women in societies where women are prohibited from speaking to men.

5. Help prevent and reduce conflict and confrontation: Diversity in peacekeeping helps to address the disproportionately negative effect that conflict has on the livelihood of women and bring new perspectives and solutions to the table by effectively addressing the needs of women in conflict and post-conflict settings, including those of women ex-combatants and child soldiers during the process of demobilizing and reintegration into civilian life.

6. Inspiring and creating role models: Women peacekeepers serve as powerful mentors and role models for women and girls in post-conflict settings in the host community, setting examples for them to advocate for their own rights and pursue non‐traditional careers.

(Sources: ANI, UN official website)

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