Promoting gender equality in peacekeeping is vital to success UN adviser

“If we bring a gender perspective to bear, our work will be much, much more successful,” Comfort Lamptey told the UN News Service. “It is critical to ensuring that we are effective and that the legacy we leave promotes the rights of all the people in the countries where we serve.”There are now 10 full-time gender advisers in UN peacekeeping missions – a jump from just two in 2000. The other seven UN missions have gender “focal points” who serve similar functions.Ms. Lamptey said these experts are working not only with traditional allies such as non-governmental organizations and Member States but also countries that contribute troops to UN peacekeeping.”We need to do a lot of work in trying to convince and encourage them particularly on the issue of gender balance in peacekeeping, which is one of the key areas where we have to make improvements,” she said, noting that women currently make up just 1 per cent of military personnel and 5 per cent of police.She said it would be necessary to show the contributing countries “what a difference it makes to have women in these missions and how the presence of women can contribute both to the effectiveness of the work that we do on the ground but also our role as peacekeeping missions vis-à-vis the host communities where we are working.”Gender advisers deployed in the field are supporting all components of peacekeeping operations, she said. On the electoral process so central to numerous UN operations, experts are examining ways to help women who want to run for office and to ensure that all people know their rights. “We are looking both at supporting women at the level of political participation as politicians themselves but also looking in the broader context to see if there are specific areas that may be preventing women from participating fully” in the political process, she said.The advisers are addressing the critical issue of gender-based violence, including wife-beating, sexual exploitation and rape, in a variety of contexts, including the disarmament process.”Many of the girls associated with the fighting forces have been kidnapped, many of them have been raped and many of them have had forced pregnancies, so we need to be able to inject a perspective that ensures that in the assistance that we provide we actually address the response needs of women in this particular situation.”UN peacekeeping operations are also training police officers in mission areas to be more sensitive to the needs of victims, Ms. Lamptey said.In the coming weeks, all UN gender advisers deployed in peacekeeping operations across the globe will come together for a strategy meeting in New York to chart a course for the future.

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