UN chief stresses women’s role in peacekeeping

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the important role of women in peacekeeping on the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

“Now this year, we also mark the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and we are observing the International Day of UN Peacekeepers with the theme: Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace,” said Guterres on Friday at a ceremony in honour of the peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2019, Xinhua news agency reported.

Resolution 1325 was a milestone in recognizing that women have a right to full, equal, and meaningful participation in peace processes, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It also emphasized women peacekeepers’ essential role in the success of UN peace operations, he said.

“Day by day, women peacekeepers help improve all aspects of our operations and performance; they ensure better access to local communities; they prevent and reduce conflict and confrontation; and they serve as role models for their peers and others,” Guterres said.

In addition, UN peacekeeping operations are better able to build trust with those in need of protection when their staffing reflects the communities in which they serve. This is another reason why increasing the number of women in peacekeeping is so crucial, he said. “Peacekeeping is more effective for everyone when we have more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in decision-making. We will continue to do everything we can, including with our troop and police contributors, to reach this goal.”

Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo of the Brazilian Navy, who is deployed with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and Suman Gawani of the Indian Army, a military observer formerly deployed with the UN Mission in South Sudan, jointly won this year’s Gender Advocate Award.

The inspiring work of the two women peacekeepers has made a remarkable difference in promoting gender equality and empowering local women and their own colleagues, said Guterres. “Your contributions are proof that women peacekeepers are vital to peace and security everywhere.”

In her role as MINUSCA’s military gender and protection advisor, Monteiro de Castro Araujo has strengthened the mission’s ability to protect civilians, address conflict-related sexual violence and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. She also strived to improve the living conditions of her fellow women peacekeepers, said Guterres.

Gawani, during her deployment in South Sudan, mentored more than 230 military observers on conflict-related sexual violence and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the mission’s team sites. She also trained the South Sudanese government forces and helped them launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence, said the UN chief.