INTERNATIONAL: UN: We Need Women Peacekeepers To Obtain Peace

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Huffington Post
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Peace Processes

Obtaining stability and security in conflict zones could be as simple as getting more women involved in the peace process, according to the United Nations.

Admittedly, the U.N. has been a slow to appoint women to peacekeeping positions, but the organization recently set an ambitious goal for women police officers around the globe. It wants women to make up 20 percent of police officers around the world by the end of this year.

Experts say that it's critical for women to take on such roles for a number of reasons. Women and men "experience" conflict differently, which means both genders need to offer their input for the resolution. Having females take on such authoritative positions will also give local women and girls a greater sense of security and comfort.

"[Women] need to be integrated into rebuilding community so that you have really inclusive peace and security," Clare Hutchinson, U.N. gender affairs officer, said in an interview in 2011. "If women aren't included in the restoration … then you don't have peace and security. It's very simple."

While 20 percent may still sound like a paltry figure, it will still mark a major improvement.

In 1993, women made up just 1 percent of deployed military personnel. Two years ago, of 125,000 peacekeepers, women constituted 3 percent of military personnel and 10 percent of police personnel, according to the U.N.

The U.N. has already taken some notable steps in advancing women in conflict zones.

Back in May, Major General Kristin Lund, 55, was the first woman to be appointed to command a United Nations peacekeeping force, the Associated Press reported.

Lund, a Norwegian general, has served in Lebanon, the first Gulf war, Bosnia and Afghanistan and will oversee about 1,000 peacekeepers in Cyprus.

"I think it's time, and I think it's important that other women see that it's possible also in the UN system to get up in the military hierarchy to become a force commander," Lund said.