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Greater action needed to include women in peacekeeping – UN study

femme_en_ops8 February 2011

Ten years after the Security Council called for greater involvement of women in peacebuilding, United Nations peacekeeping missions have a mixed record and need to deploy greater efforts to reach the goal, according to a study launched today. “The impact study is a call to action to the senior leadership of peacekeeping to accelerate implementation of resolution 1325,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy said, referring to the Council’s resolution of October 2000, which sought to end sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and encourage greater participation by them in peacebuilding initiatives.

The study, carried out by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS), calls on UN peacekeeping missions to work with local women, national authorities and Member States to increase the limited participation of women in peace negotiations, national security institutions and governance in post-conflict situations today.

Despite some cases of enhanced political representation, women’s ability to contribute effectively to governing their societies often remains hampered by persistent discrimination, it reported. Early and better-coordinated planning by peacekeeping missions, across the UN system and with national partners, is required to ensure lasting and meaningful changes for women in post-conflict situations, it added.

“I will continue to prioritize this agenda and provide the necessary leadership to ensure that the entire peacekeeping family is effectively mobilized to support the building of more just and equal post-conflict societies,” Mr. Le Roy said in launching the Ten-year Impact Study on Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security in Peacekeeping.

Peacekeeping has played a crucial role in significant progress made in women’s participation in politics as voters, candidates and elected officials, with the most marked advances in countries where quotas are in place, such as Timor-Leste and Burundi, it reported.

Peacekeeping missions have also influenced legal and judicial reforms by supporting the adoption of gender equality laws in several countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone. Deployments of patrols in high-risk areas in the Darfur region of Sudan and the DRC have also enhanced protection of women.

But peacekeeping has not succeeded in significantly improving women’s participation in peace negotiations, the study found, underscoring the need for a strategy ensuring engagement with diverse groups of women. Peacekeeping missions should also intensify advocacy to increase the representation of women in national security institutions, safeguard their equal rights, and expand opportunities for their professional advancement, it added.

The study also called for a more robust response to fight against conflict-related sexual violence, which remains highly prevalent in peacekeeping mission areas; more resources for protecting women who are refugees or internally displaced, with the support of international partners; and holding senior peacekeeping management to a higher level of accountability for compliance with resolution 1325.

Key advances include an exponential increase in women serving as civilian staff in UN peacekeeping missions from only 20 in the 32 years between 1957 and 1989 to 30 per cent of the current 19,800 civilian staffers. Eight Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs) and Deputy SRSGs in peace operations are women, while women currently make up nine per cent of the 12,000 deployed police officers, up from six per cent in 2005.

There are now three all-female UN police units deployed – Indian in Liberia, Bangladeshi in Haiti, and Samoan in Timor-Leste – and the current UN Police Adviser, who advises the DPKO on police-related matters, is a woman, Ann-Marie Orler of Sweden.

The UN has launched a plan to recruit more female police officers into national police services and into UN police operations around the world, with a goal of reaching 20 per cent by 2014.


gender 01 450

Colonel Isabelle Ehrhart-Duffo (French Army)
Gender Advisor to SACT

Lieutenant Colonel Michele Claveau (Canadian Air Force)
Deputy Gender Advisor

Ms. Aram Hong (Canadian Contractor)
Gender Advisor Assistant

For information please contact: or via telephone at +1 (757) 747-3400

Topics of Interest

The UN Women Assistant Secretary-General
and Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri

And of course the political commitment to achieving the full and equal enjoyment and realization of their human rights and fundamental freedoms by all women and girls is the key to broader achievement of the justice, freedom and the equality project of humanity. For gender inequality, discrimination and violence is the most taken for granted and difficult to uproot, and yet, a ubiquitous challenge that the project faces today.

See more here.

Attacks against girl's education on the increase:

Women of Achievement



Major General Kristin Lund of Norway is the first woman ever to be appointed as Force Commander in United Nations Peacekeeping Operation, and is currently serving with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

A role model for many, she has held several top leadership posts in a male-dominated profession. Breaking new ground for women in the military, she became the first female army officer to be promoted to the rank of Major General, and was later also appointed as Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Home Guard. Pushing for change, she been very active in civil and military networks.

She says, "It has been crucial for me to meet women in similar situations. The fact that I finally have shattered several glass ceilings, and paved the way for many, is important. I believe it contributes to show other women that you can climb to the top, also in a military profession."

See more here.

Gender Advisor

Widespread sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations, the lack of effective institutional arrangements to protect women, and the continued under-representation of women in peace processes, remain serious impediments to building sustainable peace. We remain committed to the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and related Resolutions which are aimed at protecting and promoting women's rights, role, and participation in preventing and ending conflict. In line with the NATO/Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Policy, the Alliance, together with its partners, has made significant progress in implementing the goals articulated in these Resolutions. In this regard, we have today endorsed a Strategic Progress Report on mainstreaming UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions into NATO-led Operations and Missions, and welcomed Norway's generous offer to provide a NATO Special Representative for these important issues. In this context, and to further advance this work, we have tasked the Council to: continue implementing the Policy and the Action Plan; undertake a review of the practical implications of UNSCR 1325 for the conduct of NATO operations and missions; further integrate gender perspectives into Alliance activities; and submit a report for our next Summit.

- Chicago Summit Declaration Issued by the Heads of State and Government
participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Chicago
on 20 May 2012, paragraph 16

  • <b>Consider Women and Men When Plann<b></b> a Meet<b></b>.</b>You must consider how to advertise the meet<b></b>. Will you place posters in the market or in other places where women will go? Will you hold the meet<b></b> at night when most women cannot attend? Meet<b></b> should be organised when both men and women are available.
  • <b>Increase Efforts to Expand the Role of Women.</b>The number of women lead<b></b> UN peacekeep<b></b>, political and peace-build<b></b> missions in 2011 went up from 6 to 33 missions.
  • <b>Consult Women On The Construction of Schools.</b>Women in Afghanistan highlighted the importance of build<b></b> walls around a school facility explain<b></b> that the privacy the walls provided would enable girls to attend the school.
  • <b>Ask Women What They Want And Need.</b>During a development project in Afghanistan, the international community decided to place running water inside the houses so that the women did not have to walk to the well to get water everyday, several times a day. Women in Afghanistan do not want this, as going to the well to get water is sometimes their only opportunity to meet other people, other women, to find out what is happening in the village and the surrounding area. By not knowing and respecting the cultural and social norms of the Afghan society and by not asking the women what they wanted, we further limited the women's possibilities to access important information that would only be transmitted to them while visiting the well.
  • <b>Supplies Should Not Be One-Size-Fits-All.</b>Guarantee a supply of equipment, such as uniforms, towels and body armour, in sizes and shapes that fit both men and women.
  • <b>Appeal Recruitment Campaigns To Both Men And Women.</b>Many recruitment campaigns do not necessarily appeal to women as they tend to emphasise masculine values.  The Ministry of Defence of Norway consulted marketing agencies that led to the Armed Forces changing its public image.  A new advertisement reads <i>It is not about how many kilos you can carry: it is about how smart you are</i>.
  • <b>Increase Women's Participation in Decision-Making Processes.</b>The Gender Affairs Unit of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor facilitated an incredible increase of women's participation in decision-making from the local to the national level. The Unit offered training workshops for potential women candidates in elections and provided training for civil police and larger networks of actors to build the capacities to integrate gender into their work. At least one third of candidates elected to the national assembly were women, in addition to two female cabinet members, 50 per cent of women chosen for Village Development Councils and 30 per cent of women in the police forces.
  • <b>Use Women In Operations.</b>A U.S. Corporal as part of a Female Engagement Team (FET) visiting a village, established excellent rapport with a male farmer in Afghanistan during repeated visits to his farm.  The farmer was thrilled to talk to someone who shared his enthusiasm for his crop: watermelon.  The farmer gave the Corporal two watermelons as a gift.  She accepted the gift and as they continued talking, the man revealed that he had information about the Taliban and security threats in the area.  The farmer then shared the location of several IED belts in the area, as well as key Taliban conspirators.  The information was verified and proved true.  The safe removal of the IED belts saved the lives of military personnel and created a safer environment for the local population.
  • <b>Consider Needs of Both Men And Women In Development Projects.</b>Integrating gender perspective applies also when building something as simple as a bridge. During one of the pre-operations briefings, the operations officer didn't think that was necessary to consider integrating gender perspective. Our task is to build a bridge, we don't need to worry about gender issues, he claimed. The instructor then started to ask questions: <i>Who is going to use this bridge</i> Well, the locals, the officer answered. You mean men, women and children the instructor asked. Well, yes. OK, how do they travel? By car mostly, the officer answered. <b>The women too?</b> the instructor asked. No, they'll probably walk, the officer answered. Then maybe you want to consider building a pedestrian zone on the bridge? The instructor asked. The operation officer could only agree. Now, gentlemen, we have just used a gender perspective on building a bridge, the instructor added.

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Examples of Integrating Gender Perspective