The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) began deployment in June 2004. In order for it to successfully carry out its mandate in accordance with Resolution 1542 (2004), the mission is composed of military, Civilian Police (CIVPOL) and international and local civilian staff.
Among its other tasks, CivPol is mandated to assist the Transitional Government in the restructuring and reform of the Haitian National Police and in the implementation of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program “for all armed groups, including women and children associated with such groups”1
As of 1 August 2004, the CivPol contingent in Haiti comprises 206 police officers, four of whom are women (around two percent of the contingent's total size). Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which was adopted by the Security Council on 31 October 2000, “Urges the Secretary-General to seek to expand the role and contribution of women in United Nations field-based operations, and especially among military observers, civilian police, human rights and humanitarian personnel.”
With women only making up two percent of the entire CIVPOL contingent in Haiti, MINUSTAH has yet to meet the requirements of Resolution 1325.
1 S/RES/1542 (2004) April 30 2004. The figures are not much better in other peacekeeping missions. As the UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, pointed out in a speech to the Security Council in October 2003, women constitute a mere four percent of the total number of civilian police in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide.2
Why are there so few women in the civilian police contingents of UN peacekeeping operations? What are the obstacles they face? How can these obstacles be removed? This is what we tried to find out by talking to the four women who were selected by their respective countries to serve in MINUSTAH.