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Women, Peace, Security and the Future of U.N. Peacekeeping

By Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin | 8th Theater Sustainment Command | April 4, 2017

PANCHKHAL, Nepal -- Multinational instructors are promoting the role of women in peacekeeping operations and the inclusion of gender perspective into United Nations (U.N.) missions during Field Training Events (FTEs) at exercise Shanti Prayas III.

Shanti Prayas III is a Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) capstone exercise designed to build partner capacity by training defense personnel for real-world U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Though many countries have made significant strides in the inclusion of women in peacekeeping and security roles, larger efforts to advance gender integration continue because women only constitute 3-4% of U.N. peacekeepers.

“Women are underrepresented in all parts of peace making, peacekeeping and post conflict,” said Lt. Col. Jane Derbyshire of the New Zealand Defense Force. “Women make up 50% of our world’s population and we can’t bring about a sustainable peace unless we meaningfully have women’s participation as well.”

Reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building, the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on October 31, 2000. Seven more resolutions have been adopted since that combine to form women, peace and security.

Resolution 1325 stresses the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in the prevention and resolution of conflicts; and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase women’s role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution.

In 2011, Nepal approved a national action plan for women, peace and security and has taken a leap forward in ensuring that women participate equally in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence and insecurity.

Throughout their peacekeeping efforts over the years, women have played a vital role within the Nepalese Army.

Today, Nepal has more women peacekeepers deployed in support of U.N. peacekeeping missions than any other nation. For Shanti Prayas III, the Nepalese platoons are made up of 50% women.

With the women, peace and security course, Derbyshire said that she hopes the progress continues, not just for Nepal, but for all peacekeeping nations. She said that this progress would accelerate not by just getting women involved, but men as well.

“Men have an absolutely vital role to play because integrating a gender perspective is the main way we can really make a difference in this area. What we’ve been focusing on during this exercise is for every single person to be thinking about how does it affect men, women, boys and girls,” she said. “In a conflict, there’s different ways in which they are affected. If we can take that into account, then as professional soldiers and officers we can actually be more effective and create that sustainable peace we’re after on those U.N. peacekeeping missions.”

“Women, peace and security aims not just to make conflicts more humane but to address the root causes such as gender inequality so that conflicts will be prevented from reoccurring,” Derbyshire continued.

Through U.S. Pacific Command’s annual GPOI capstone exercises, including Shanti Prayas, we continue to inform and educate multinational forces about the importance of women, peace and security.

More than 6,500 female peacekeepers have been trained under GPOI since 2005. Additionally, from August 2011 to Aug 2016, GPOI partner nations have increased their deployment of female peacekeepers by 62%.

U.S. Pacific Command is scheduled to co-host next years’ GPOI capstone exercise, Shanti Doot IV, with Bangladesh at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training.

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