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    USARAF meets Congressional Mandate

    “Women in Peacekeeping” panel - Shared Accord 2018

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Micah Merrill | “Women in Peacekeeping” panel during the Shared Accord exercise 2018, Gako,...... read more read more

    KIGALI, Rwanda – U.S. Army Africa collaborates with its African partners to increase the ability of peacekeepers to protect civilians in an increasingly dangerous field environment meeting congressional, United Nations, and African Union mandates to protect civilians.

    “One of the measurements of success for peacekeepers lies with the effective protection of civilians,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marci T. Hodge, a peace operations analyst specializing in women, peace and security with the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, told the training audience during exercise Shared Accord 2018 in Rwanda. “Research has found that when women are more involved in the peace process the agreement is 35 percent more likely to endure for at least 15 years. So, women are essential to peace and security.”

    During U.S. Army Africa’s Accord Series exercises in 2018, African partners, the U.S. and European allies ensured its training included discussions on the importance of professional militaries respecting the rule of law and human rights, on responding to allegations of abuse, and on the importance of female peacekeepers.

    “The U.N. Women, Peace and Security report mentioned that women and girls are valuable targets, because they are often seen as the vectors of cultural identity,” said Capt. Lausanne Nsengimana, a Rwandan Defence Force officer who deployed with the first rotation of peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in 2014 with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). “That is why warfare tactics such as rape, forced abortion, trafficking, sexual slavery and the threat of sexually transmitted disease are part of contemporary conflicts. Female military members are value-added in conflicts where gender-segregated culture remains strong, where women’s voices go unheard, or women’s security issues are not being taken in consideration during operations.”

    If a woman is raped, she will more likely approach a woman in uniform rather than a man. Men are also more likely to approach a woman in uniform if they have been raped, added Nsengimana, a graduate of the U.S. Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Women peacekeepers play an increasingly prominent role and are crucial in improving the performance of U.N. operations.

    USARAF’s four Accord Series exercises each build relevant training scenarios based on a U.N. mission for participants from troop-contributing nations attending the exercises. Shared Accord, the final exercise in the 2018 series, is being held at the Rwanda Military Academy and is focusing on preparing soldiers and police from 15 African nations for MINUSCA.

    Lt. Col. Abraham Biwot, a U.N. member states support team peacekeeping training officer agreed one of the keys to the success of this initiative is to increase women peacekeepers.

    “The yardstick for the measurement of success for MINUSCA lies with effective protection of civilians,” said Biwot, an officer in the Kenya Defence Forces. “Effective protection of civilians begins with peacekeepers recognizing the critical role women play in peacekeeping. This arises out of the fact that women and children suffer the most during conflict because of their gender roles and fewer resources to defend themselves.”

    Biwot added that including both female soldiers and police officers in the MINUSCA mission strengthens the protection efforts of male peacekeepers, raises awareness of women’s issues, acts as a deterrent of sexual exploitation and abuse, and improves operational effectiveness.

    “Incorporating women in peacekeeping and peace building ensures issues pertaining to them and the vulnerable are factored in for sustainable peace,” Biwot said.

    U.S. Army Africa’s regional and bilateral efforts to help strengthen the capacity of troop- and police-contributing countries, including enhancing the roles of women, so their respective contributions to peacekeeping in turn contributes to a more inclusive effective and efficient peacekeeping complement U.N. efforts, said Bintou Keita, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

    It might be why, Africa is doing better than other regions in terms of women participating in peacekeeping. Out of the U.N.’s 14 peacekeeping missions Africa contributed 2,829, 65 percent, of the 4,353 military and police women currently serving on the ground. This is larger than Africa’s share of total U.N. peacekeepers, which stands at 48.5 percent. However, it still is not enough.

    “The issue of inadequate women participation in peacekeeping is a global problem,” Keita said. “Some troop-contributing countries may not have women in their military’s infantry, which impacts the number of women they can deploy to peacekeeping operations, though others may have women in combat roles, and may choose not to deploy them on peacekeeping missions.

    Keita added women do not need to come from combat-related career fields. However, the U.N. have introduced targets where women must make up 15 percent of the member states military observers and staff officer positions.

    “If the target isn’t reached, then those positions maybe offered to other troop and police-contributing countries that can deploy women to these positions,” she said.



    Date Taken: 08.30.2018
    Date Posted: 08.30.2018 07:23
    Story ID: 290881
    Location: GAKO, RW

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