Increasing the participation of uniformed women in peace operations is a “key priority” for the United Nations, the head of peacekeeping told a High-Level Launch Event on Wednesday.
“It is one of our commitments to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda under the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative (A4P) and will remain a priority” during the next phase of A4P and A4P+, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations (DPO).
He was speaking at the launch of the UN Elsie Initiative Fund, where it was announced that Liberia, Mexico, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone will receive financial support to increase the participation of women military personnel and police in peace operations.
“Women can fill any position in peacekeeping as well or better than men”, he said.
One way of promoting participation is by recognizing their contributions in different roles and positions throughout UN missions, including steering the public discussion away from so-called “women’s added value”, which he said “often silently places a burden of justification on women”.
To improve the way UN missions operate, Mr. Lacroix underscored the importance of diverse teams in which both women and men can “contribute their skills, experiences and perspectives to the fullest”.
“When our operations reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, we are more successful at building trust with them and at understanding the different security needs of the men, women, boys and girls that are part of these communities”, he explained.
Moreover, he argued that it is critical in protecting civilians and implementing peacekeeping’s mandate overall.
Since the launch of the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy in 2018, DPO has made good progress in meeting its targets, according to the peacekeeping chief.
He said that from 2018 to 2021, the number of women Staff Officers and Military Observers had increased from 12.3 to 17.8 per cent; the number of women Individual Police Officers from 22.3 to 30.4 per cent; and women in Formed Police Units went from 9 to 14.8 per cent.
And a newly introduced requirement that all Infantry Units deploy with Engagement Platoons, a minimum of 50 per cent women, should also improve that situation.