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    Importance of increasing women in peacekeeping operations

    Exercise Shared Accord 2019 takes place in Rwanda

    Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Janeen Miller | Lt. Meron Rugazora Mutese, pilot, Rwandan Air Force, speaks at the “Women, Peace and...... read more read more

    RWANDA

    08.19.2019

    Courtesy Story

    Southern European Task Force Africa

    Gabiro, Rwanda – During a discussion panel held as part of Shared Accord 2019, four female officers from Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia shared their thoughts and experiences while serving in peacekeeping operations and the importance of increasing women in these roles.

    “An increase in women in peacekeeping operations will increase access to the whole population,” said Dr. Jan Hessbruegge, human rights officer with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and moderator for the panel. “Fifty percent of the population is more accessible by women (forces), improving overall situational awareness.”

    The panel included Lt. Col. Christine Nekesa, director of the Civil Military Corporation (CIMIC) for land forces, Uganda People’s Defence Force; Maj. Angeline Kamannzi, staff officer, Rwanda Air Force; Maj. Audrey Malungo Samboko, communications corps, Zambian Defence Force; and Lt. Meron Rugazora Mutese, pilot, Rwanda Air Force.

    According to the United Nations, the increased recruitment of women in peacekeeping operations is critical for helping make the peacekeeping force approachable to women in the community, interacting with women in societies where women are prohibited from speaking to men, and interviewing survivors of gender-based violence.

    “Through female engagement teams, we can get more information or intelligence because the majority of the population are women,” said Nikesa, while speaking of her experience during her service with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). “If you wanted to talk to the females and the meeting consisted of men, the women were not free to talk. That’s when we learned that the ladies needed to have special meetings only with ladies so that they could open up and tell us their problems.”

    Women peacekeepers have also proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts. In many cases, women are better-placed to carry out peacekeeping tasks.

    “Breaking through in a male dominated profession was really a challenge – you have to constantly prove yourself. You have to work extra hard for them to accept that you are capable of doing whatever it is that they are doing,” said Samboko of her experience as a communications officer in the Zambian Defence Force.

    Samboko, who has deployed as a military observer with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), also said that the first battalion deployed from the Zambian Defence Force was composed only of men. And while they were able to complete most of the tasks they were given, they were unable to complete the mission of reaching out to the local women. When the second battalion deployed, the Zambian Defence Force felt it was necessary to deploy a number of females in order to achieve the engagements with the women, the youth and the children.

    Additionally, the U.N. states that it is important to have female peacekeepers because they act as role models in the local environment, inspiring women and girls in often male-dominated societies to push for their own rights and for participation in peace processes.

    “Young girls who see you stepping out of the helicopter say, ‘girls fly too?’ You really feel like these people needed something to boost their understanding and give them hope,” said Mutese, referring to her experience with the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNIMISS). “I told the young girl that she could also be a pilot and she asked me how she could in such an unstable country. I told her a bit of our history, we also grew up from scratch after genocide and I believe you can do it.”

    To close out the discussion panel, Dr. Hessbruegge added, “I am very convinced that the vision of the U.N. of increasing the number of women we have in peacekeeping is the right one because we have seen that this is not only symbolically important, but there is real operational value in being representative. Just as the strengths of the U.N. arise from the fact that we are representative of the whole world, the strengths will only grow if we are also representative of men and women in our operations.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.19.2019
    Date Posted: 08.19.2019 06:14
    Story ID: 336375
    Location: RW

    Web Views: 245
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