All female leadership: A milestone in the history of peace operations

Photos: UNFICYP Flickr

The border zone is since 1974 under UN control and mainly abandoned. UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe


The UN Peacekeeping Mission to Cyprus (UNFICYP) is headed completely by women since the beginning of this year. All three pillars of the mission are headed by women: military, police and civil. Elizabeth Spehar (Canada), Special Representative of the Secretary-General, if the head of mission, Major General Cheryl Pearce (Australia) leads the military component and Ann-Kristen Kvilekval (Norway) the police force. Moreover, Jane Holl Lute (USA) has been appointed Special Envoy to Cyprus by Secretary-General António Guterres.

Increasing the number of women in peacekeeping missions is one declared aim of the UN. Research supports the positive impact women can have on peace settlements, which on average last longer than with only men at the table. Between 1957 and 1989 there have been only 20 female peacekeepers in total deployed to missions, while the number is up to five per cent of the total peacekeeping personnel today. The goal is to enhance the participation of women in peacekeeping missions even more.

Germany, too, has focused on the topic Women, Peace and Security for its 2019/2020 non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council and wants to actively support improvements during its tenure.

ZIF welcomes the new leadership of the Cyprus mission and appreciates this step towards more gender-inclusive peacekeeping operations.