IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsPanel: Women’s Participation in Peacekeeping Improves Operational Effectiveness

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Monday, October 07, 2013

Panel: Women’s Participation in Peacekeeping Improves Operational Effectiveness

Using the recently published IPI report Not Just a Numbers Game as a springboard for discussion, participants at an IPI panel on October 7, 2013 brought home the key message that women’s participation in peacekeeping improves the operational effectiveness of UN missions, and there are many tools available to UN staff and member states to increase this participation.

Panelists included Sahana Dharmapuri, author of Not Just a Numbers Game; Comdt Jayne Lawlor, Gender Advisor for the Irish Defence Forces; Izumi Nakamitsu, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations; and Hester Paneras, Police Commissioner for the AU-UN Mission in Darfur.

The panelists considered strategies for better integrating a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations, increasing the number of women involved, and implementing UN policies in this regard.

A number of insights emerged from the meeting:

1. An emerging body of literature shows that women’s participation and a gender perspective enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations—for example, through better situational awareness, improved communication with host communities, and increased credibility of the mission in the eyes of the population it is serving. Nonetheless, more research is needed to better understand this impact.

2. Less than a third of civilian staff in UN missions are women, while women make up just 10 percent of UN police and 3 percent of uniformed peacekeepers. Such low participation rates can be explained by a lack of understanding about the contributions that women can make to peacekeeping, social biases that perpetuate gender inequality, and failure to implement UN policies and guidelines in practice.

3. Engaging with troop- and police-contributing countries is crucial to increasing women’s participation in peacekeeping, since in many states the recruitment of women in national police and armed forces remains very low and national policies and procedures can serve as barriers to entry for women.

4. In addition, the link between women’s participation and improvements to peace operations needs to be better communicated to male and female leaders in this field. Training, awareness, and expertise on gender issues and existing UN policies is needed at every level of a UN mission—strategic, tactical, and operational. This includes and goes beyond the important work of gender advisors and focal points.

5. Achieving greater gender equality in UN peacekeeping is not just about the numbers. It’s also about integrating a gender perspective—exploring the roles, status, needs, and priorities of women and men as they relate to the mission’s mandate. This requires the involvement of both men and women. And balancing family life and a career in peace operations needs to be part of the conversation.

The event was part of IPI’s Women, Peace & Security Series and Providing for Peacekeeping project. It was moderated by Adam C. Smith, IPI Research Fellow and Manager of Peace Operations Program.

Watch event:

The Global Observatory

The Search for Federal Solutions
The continuing spread of conflicts across the Middle East and Africa demonstrates the inadequacy of the centralized-state system and the growing appeal of federal solutions.

Key Global Events to Watch in August
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

July 17, 2014
EU and UN Seek Ways to Improve Cooperation in Peacekeeping
The European Union is among the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping missions around the globe, but the growing challenges faced by UN-led operations have raised the need for better EU-UN cooperation, both on the ground and at the planning level.

July 07, 2014
IPI Hosts African Junior Fellows
The sixth annual African Junior Professionals Fellowship Program at IPI brought ten African scholars to New York for a month-long familiarization with the United Nations and the related think tank community, from July 7-31 2014.

July 01, 2014
SRSG Johnson: South Sudan Crisis Changed UNMISS “Mindset”
Hilde Johnson, the outgoing Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), gave an overflow IPI audience a dramatic account of the challenging situation that has faced the United Nations in the country since the eruption of mass violence at the end of last year.

View More