FINLAND: More Women to Train as Peacekeepers?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Western Europe
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

Finland wants to make it easier for women to enter peacekeeping forces, but this could mean loosening physical fitness requirements.

Most Finnish peacekeepers carried out their military service as members of an elite crisis preparedness group. Last year 600 conscripts sought a spot on the team. Not a single woman made the cut. The test involves running 2,600 metres in 12 minutes.

But the Defence Ministry is looking to tone down these physical requirements, as the United Nations wants more female recruits in its peacekeeping family. The international body says women should have the same opportunities to serve in peacekeeping missions as men.

In Finland, plans are now in the works to favour women for certain peacekeeping jobs, such as interacting with women in societies where they are prohibited from speaking to men. According to the UN, women peacekeepers can also help to reduce conflict and confrontation and empower women in local communities.

The Finnish Defence Forces are expected to hand down new guidelines this year. Some 400 Finnish peacekeepers currently serve in a dozen missions around the world. Finnish women make up just three percent of the Blue Berets.