Women in Peacekeeping – Germany chairs the Open Debate on Women in Peacekeeping

Pictures: UN

12.04.2019

On Thursday, 10th April, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the topic of “Women in Peacekeeping”. The Council was briefed by Secretary-General Guterres, Major General Kristin Lund (first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization mission). German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen, chaired the debate and Loma Merekaje Nanjia, Secretary General of South Sudan Democratic Engagement Monitoring and Observation Programme and Women Representative to the National Constitution Amendment Committee, spoke about the reality on the ground for female peacekeepers.

The Secretary-General identified women “as a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”, which is reflected in the landmark Resolution 1325. Its implementation is by no means complete yet. Highlighting that “this is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, Secretary-General Guterres pointed to the logic behind the effort to boost female participation in peacekeeping: Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes. All in all, the UN realised the importance of women in fostering sustainable peace. Today, it is widely acknowledged that the inclusion of women in a peace process yields a more effective and sustainable agreement, which sometimes would not be possible at all without female participation.

Major General Kristin Lund highlighted the importance of the moment for gender equality. In her capacity she actively establishes gender equality in the troops she commands. These can be sometimes small measure, like the removal of pin-up pictures from common spaces used by all force members, like the gym. Other measure, such as the establishment of a female military network, focus on the promotion of inclusivity and provide the soldiers with a platform to engage and share experience.

In a similar sense, German Federal Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the broad interest and efforts for gender equality in peace operations and suggested to have female soldiers as mentors to share their stories.