India has said that UN member countries should send more all-women units to peacekeeping operations instead of mixed units, as a sure means to increase female participation.
While the UN has set ambitious targets for increasing the number of women peacekeepers, the policy framework for this was being “diluted” to accommodate those countries that could not fulfil their commitments, a counsellor in India’s UN Mission, Eenam Gambhir, told the Security Council on Thursday.
“If this is the approach, how can we possibly achieve the targets that we set for increasing women participation in peacekeeping.
“Instead of supporting a policy of mixed units, we believe that all-women units need to be incentivised to encourage greater participation… Priority should also be given to deploying from the pending pledges related to women peacekeepers,” Gambhir added.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “A key priority is to increase the number of women in peacekeeping – both civilian and uniformed, which is where we need the most improvement. This is not just a question of numbers – but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates.”
The targets for women’s representation range from 15 per cent to 35 per cent by 2028 in various elements of the peacekeeping operations, he said.
Gambhir pledged at the Council’s debate on women in peacekeeping that “India stands ready to make all efforts to fulfil these goals and strengthen both institutional capacities as well as international cooperation”.
The first time the UN deployed an all-women peacekeeping unit was in 2007 when an Indian police unit made up of 105 women was stationed in Liberia.
As of February, there were only 42 women among the 6,453 Indian peacekeepers deployed in UN missions, according to the UN.
Gambhir said that India was sending a women’s police unit to the UN Mission in South Sudan by the end of this year.
And by August, it was preparing to deploy a Female Engagement Team comprising 22 women officers and soldiers to the Rapidly Deployable Battalion in in the UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo which is known by the French initials, MONUSCO.
The engagement teams operate at the frontlines of peackeeping operations, rather than in support or policing roles.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who presided over the session, said that women always broadened the skill-set of the missions and this diversity is strength.
She said that to increase the number of women in international peacekeeping missions, the effort has to start at the national level by getting more women into the national armed forces.