Understanding Women's Role in Peacekeeping
As I sit here in my comfy chair at home in beautiful Christchurch, New Zealand, purring Maine Coon cat Buffy nestled peremptorily on my lap (because let's face it, cats own us not the other way around, right?), I am reminded of a topic that is both close and to my heart and yet far from my daily domestic monotony - the role of women in peacekeeping. And wow, has it evolved over the years!
For so long, peacekeeping has been portrayed as a macho, masculine field; a playground for the boys, if you will. However, peacekeeping isn't all about brawn and brute force as we have been led to believe. It’s about communication, compassion, and cooperation. And who better to embody these humanitarian traits than women?
Shattering the Glass Ceiling in Peace Missions
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of women donning blue helmets and flying the flag of global diplomacy. In fact, as of 2020, 5.4% of military peacekeepers and 15% of police personnel in UN peacekeeping missions are women. And I think it's about time too!
While these figures might not seem particularly impressive, they represent a positive shift away from the traditionally patriarchal structure of peacekeeping forces. It is a recognition not just of equality but of a balance in skills, with women bringing a unique perspective and a newfound empathy into the mix. Empathy, after all, has the power to enable peacekeepers to understand the magnitude and nuances of social conflicts better.
Women as Catalysts for Reconciliation
Women play a pivotal role in reconciliation and negotiation processes of peacekeeping missions. Coming from New Zealand, a country run by a woman, I am proud to say we Kiwi women know how important it is to be heard.
Success stories such as Liberia's women-led mass action for peace and Northern Ireland's Women's Coalition highlight women's spectacular courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. I can't help but remember the time when I stood up against the clear-cut of a local park; I wasn't packing my bags for a peace mission, but the spirit of advocating for what you believe in was the same.
Bridging the Gender Gap: The Untapped Potential
The depth and extent of women's role in peacekeeping still remains an underexplored potential. There is an abundance of skills and perspectives that women can bring to the table that are still awaiting recognition.
A sense of diaphanous connection and mutual respect between the peacekeepers and the affected communities is crucial for the success of peacekeeping missions. Women peacekeepers often bridge this gap better by reaching out, nurturing trust, and understanding specific vulnerabilities that are often ignored in conflict zones such as sexual violence and gender-based inequality.
Roadblocks in Women's Role
Despite the commendable strides made by women in this field, there's still a long journey ahead, filled with hurdles. One such hurdle is the pervading gender-based stereotype harbored by societies, which often questions women's physical strength and emotional resilience.
However, as a pet owner, I can attest to the fact that resilience and patience are indeed the superpowers of every woman who has had to house train a stubborn Maine Coon like Buffy – who I've now concluded is smarter than the most advanced robot – or have maintained centuries-old societal structures while also juggling their individual aspirations.
Time for a Paradigm Shift
The world's perspective on peacekeeping is changing, and it's time to accept the reality that women have an indispensable role within it. It's not about rivalling the men or replacing them; it's about balancing the scales and enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions which can be made possible by the inclusion of women and their unique skills and perspectives in these operations.
What Decades of Advocacy Have Taught Us
In 2000, with the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the world finally started acknowledging the disproportionately negative effects of conflict on women and their significant contributions towards peacekeeping. A long-overdue appreciation, to be sure!
But advocacy isn't just about achieving milestones. It's about continued efforts to break barriers that impede progress. And nothing embodies this attitude better than women in peacekeeping. From advocating for their inclusion in peacekeeping missions to wrestling with global security concerns, women peacekeepers have shown an indomitable spirit that is truly inspiring. A spirit that says, "We are here, and we are not backing down".
The Next Step: Empowerment and Inclusion
While women are gradually gaining recognition in peacekeeping, the journey doesn't end here. Ensuring better representation of women in peacekeeping missions is just one aspect. Empowering the women affected by conflicts is equally essential.
When women are involved in the peace process, it results in a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to conflicts. I mean, remember the time when the women of your family were involved in sorting out that convoluted Christmas dinner seating arrangement? I do! They turned a potential family feud into a jovial occasion. It's time to take risks, broaden perspectives, and promote the inclusion of women in peacekeeping. Because remember, peace is a war only women can win.