New Delhi: With the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces engaged in peace missions in at least eight nations across the world, there is now a need to ensure post-conflict resolutions bring lasting peace. One way, experts believe, is to involve more women in the peace process. One of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, India, is all set to take the lead in terms of involving more women.
Lt. General Sarath Chand, Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCoAs), told News 18 India was going to double the number of women it currently involves in UN Peacekeeping Missions. “From deciding the mandate of the peacekeeping missions to negotiating ceasefires and post-conflict resolution, women need to play a larger role. Currently, women constitute under 4% of the military component of peacekeeping missions. The United Nations Secretary-General wants it to be 8% by next year. We (Indian Army) have also been instructed to double the number of women on our end and we will keep up our end of these commitments.”
Speaking earlier at a ‘UN Women’ event in New Delhi, which is hosting a workshop on gender integration in peacekeeping missions, Lt Gen Chand, who has also served on UN peacekeeping missions, recalled horrors of conflict-related sexual violence on the battlefield. “I have also been a part of UN peacekeeping missions and I have witnessed first-hand the suffering of women. Rape and sexual violence are used as tactics of war by rebel groups. This isn’t something that the UN didn’t know. This was happening despite UN resolutions being passed against it.”
Currently, United Nations Peacekeeping Missions are going on simultaneously in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. “More and more, we see the nature of international conflict change. We are moving from inter-state conflict to intra-state conflict,” said Lt. Gen. Chand, adding, “We need to take care that when we include women in peacekeeping missions, they also need to be provided adequate security as part of the mission.”
Currently, women are not allowed to serve in the Indian Army’s combat units like the Infantry, Armoured Corps, and the Mechanised Infantry. The Indian Army inducted within its ranks a female officer for the first time in 1993. In 2007, the first all-woman United Nations Peacekeeping Force was sent to Liberia, which had 105 Indian policewomen. India has been one of the largest troop contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Force, with 1.8 lakh troops deployed over 43 missions since the inception of the UN Peacekeeping Mission.