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More women needed in global peacekeeping

More women needed in global peacekeeping operations: UN-backed conference

Describing the current low numbers of women in United Nations peacekeeping operations as “disheartening,” a United Nations-backed conference called today for their number to be doubled every year for the next few years, saying this would not only improve the efficiency of peacekeeping but also its credibility.

Comfort Lamptey, Gender Adviser of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), told reporters on the second day of a landmark two-day meeting to discuss gender disparity in peacekeeping that currently only one per cent of military personnel were women, while only four per cent of the police were women.

“Our current picture is rather disheartening…women only constitute 746 military personnel and the male peacekeepers are 63,862; and in the case of the police, women only make up 314 of the personnel we have worldwide out of 7,408,” Ms. Lamptey said, explaining why the UN called for the meeting with troop and police contributing countries.

“We are asking Member States to double the numbers of women being deployed every year for the next few years, and that they also as a monitoring mechanism disaggregate: we want to make sure that in all reporting that we do that the statistics on women and men deployed are disaggregated, because right now we don’t say…how many women are actually deployed.”

Echoing Ms. Lamptey’s remarks, Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng of Ghana – one of the co-chairs of the meeting – said the fact that this was the first such gathering to discuss gender disparity in peacekeeping showed that the issue “had not been given much priority by Member States.”

“It is clear that we cannot afford to do business as usual as it is undermining both our credibility and our efficiency in the field,” he said, adding that as peacekeeping operations become more multi-dimensional so “greater representation of women is necessary to strengthen the implementation of Mission mandates.”

Antero Lopes, the Deputy UN Police Adviser, also acknowledged the gender disparity in global police operations, but he said that some progress had been made toward redressing the situation.

“In the local police services which are being reformed by the UN police in Sierra Leone and Timor Leste, we have both 25 per cent of female representation; in Liberia, we have a little bit lower; in UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) the current figure is 14 per cent,” he told reporters.

Mr. Lopes also said that through various advocacy initiatives, the UN’s Police Adviser was able to engage more and more Member States, and because of this India had committed to deploying a 125-strong all-female police unit, while Jordan recently said that for the first time it would deploy four female police officers.

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