The Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Rwanda, Indonesia and Norway on May 3 showcased the progress made by their countries in the recruitment of more women in their armed and police forces as well as in UN peacekeeping missions.
This was during a seminar at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States.
According to a statement, the seminar sought to spur a conversation on strategies and commitments that are necessary to meet the United Nations goal of increasing women peacekeepers by 15 per cent (staff officers and military observers) and 20 per cent police officers by the end of 2018.
Capt. Lausanne Nsengimana, of the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), talked about her experience as a peacekeeper in the Central African Republic (CAR).
“My work on this peacekeeping mission was not only about securing a cease-fire, but also a matter of education and sharing experiences from women to women in a normal day setting,” said Capt. Nsengimana, who was part of the first RDF contingent that was deployed to CAR in 2014.
She pointed out that female peacekeepers can build stronger relationships with communities and gain more access to information than all-male contingents.
“Younger Rwandan women, born after the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, are increasingly joining the officer corps, though more mobilisation needs to be done to increase the numbers of women joining the armed forces,” she added.
In her remarks, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations, Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, outlined suggestions of how to increase women’s meaningful participation in peacekeeping, including identifying and eliminating the inequalities that reinforce prejudice towards women, employing a gender perspective, and instilling a mechanism for accountability.
Rugwabiza also cited the need to ensure respect for women and prioritising their dignity and equality, promoting women in rank and leadership roles at the same rate as men, and taking complete ownership of the women, peace and security agenda.
She stressed the centrality of transformative leadership in the promotion of women’s participation in peacekeeping.
“Good leaders change bad attitudes, and open up opportunities. I recommend that countries with high numbers of peacekeeping forces, such as Rwanda, should collaborate and share best practices and strategies. Success stories bring other success stories,” she said.
The Permanent Representative of Indonesia, Amb. Dian Triansyah Djani, said there are many reasons to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping, pointing to the fact that “not a single woman peacekeeper has been accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in any peacekeeping mission”.