Like the amazons of the elite troops of Dahomey at the time of King Béhanzin, the blue helmet women are fighters whose contribution are of great importance, hence the increase over the years of their number in the numbers of UN forces. Unlike the men who have been at the center of many sexual abuse scandals, blue helmets have an irreproachable reputation in the various countries where they are sent on a mission.
As UN peacekeeping operations are increasingly taking a humanitarian approach, they bring a special touch to their specific way of conceiving peace. This makes it imperative to recruit them.
Twenty years ago, women were poorly represented in the United Nations peacekeeping force. The international organization that encourages the involvement of women in the police force and in the army of its personnel must nonetheless comply with the will of the Member States, which have the responsibility of deciding the number of women in uniform to deploy in the military contingents of the United Nations. In the field, female staff plays the same role as men, performing the same tasks in often difficult conditions while sometimes assuming high hierarchical functions.
Women and children at the center of concerns
Because wars and conflicts disproportionately affect women and girls, women peacekeepers are well placed to protect their rights and help them rebuild their lives. Faced with male dominance in some crisis areas, they are role models for women who do not dare to get involved in peace processes and prefer to let men take the lead. They encourage them to assert themselves and claim their rights. In the post-war period, they are guiding women combatants who have served in armed groups in the reintegration process so that they can reintegrate into society, regain their autonomy and have material assistance.
They are better placed to understand their concerns and to defend their interests during the demobilization process. The contribution of women in blue helmets is also of great importance to women who have been raped or treated as sexual slaves during the war.
They are in charge of questioning those who wish to confide in the sexist burrs of which they have been victims. The presence of women in UN troops also creates a safe environment that encourages women to be less afraid and express themselves. Female blue helmets are also working to ensure that these vulnerable women can benefit from psychological support. UN women soldiers are also concerned about the situation of children by securing this vulnerable section of the population in times of conflict and providing them with medical assistance.
Major actresses in peacebuilding
During peace processes during UN missions, the presence of women eases tensions and promotes dialogue with the various actors involved in the war. As such, they are active agents in peace talks during armed conflict. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) recognizes the terrible consequences of armed conflict on women and girls, which is why they stress the important role women can play in preventing and resolving conflict only in the consolidation of peace.
The UN is working to ensure that women in the ranks of its troops are better trained in peacekeeping and encourages them to become involved in civil society and to better manage the gender issue. Ceasefire agreements, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes and conflict prevention. Their increased involvement makes it possible to take into account the priorities and needs of women and girls in peacekeeping operations. Considered as models, they encourage women’s participation in political affairs as well as their involvement in electoral processes.
The number of women integrated into United Nations forces has increased in recent years. They now represent 5% of the troops and 8% of the police contingents. If their role and the added value that they bring is, according to the UN Security Council incredible, much remains to be done so that the contributing States assume their responsibility by guaranteeing a better feminization of the contingents involved in the operations of maintenance of the peace. As the participation of women soldiers is not only a question of quotas, their involvement, which is strongly recommended during peace processes, should be more felt.
Article from AFRIC editorial
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