India has said that countries should send more all-women units to UN peacekeeping operations instead of mixed units as the sure way of increasing the participation of women. While the UN has set ambitious targets for increasing the number of women peacekeepers, the policy framework for this was being “diluted” to accommodate those countries that could not fulfill their commitments, a counsellor in India's UN Mission, Eenam Gambhir, told the Security Council on Thursday.
“If this is the approach, how can we possibly achieve the targets that we set for increasing women participation in peacekeeping,” she said.
“Instead of supporting a policy of mixed units, we believe that all-women units need to be incentivised to encourage greater participation”, she said. “Priority should also be given to deploying from the pending pledges related to women peacekeepers.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “A key priority is to increase the number of women in peacekeeping – both civilian and uniformed, which is where we need the most improvement. This is not just a question of numbers – but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates".
The targets for women’s representation range from 15 per cent to 35 per cent by 2028 in various elements of the peacekeeping operations, he said.
Gambhir pledged at the Council's debate on women in peacekeeping that “India stands ready to make all efforts to fulfill these goals and strengthen both institutional capacities as well as international cooperation.”
The first time the UN deployed an all-women peacekeeping unit was in 2007 when an Indian police unit made up of 105 women that was deployed in Liberia.
As of February, there were only 42 women among the 6,453 Indian peacekeepers deployed in UN missions, according to the UN.
Gambhir said that India was sending a women's police unit to the UN Mission in South Sudan by the end of this year. And by August 2019 it was preparing to deploy a Female Engagement Team comprising 22 women officers and soldiers to the Rapidly Deployable Battalion in in the UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo which is known by the French initials, MONUSCO. The engagement teams operate at the frontlines of peackeeping operations, rather than in support or policing roles.