Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace
Today marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. It offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s invaluable contribution to the work of the UN and to honour more than 3,900 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 102 in 2019.
This year, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are great, however, throughout this time UN peacekeepers have continued to support and protect the people in the countries they are based in.
To help mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the theme for this year is ‘Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace’.
Through UNSCR 1325, ensuing resolutions, as well as the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) Declaration of Shared Commitments, the UN has called for an expansion of the role and contribution of women in its operations.
As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we must do more to achieve women’s equal representation in all areas of peace and security. Together, let us continue to wage peace, defeat the pandemic and build a better future.UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948, when the Security Council authorised the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Since then, more than 1 million women and men have served in 72 UN peacekeeping operations.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D, and the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D, paid tribute to Irish peacekeepers currently deployed overseas under the constraints of COVID-19.
Welcoming this year’s theme, the Taoiseach said:
Since the first Irish troops first were deployed on UN peacekeeping operations in 1958, not a single day has passed without Irish participation in UN peace support operations. Over the past sixty two years, tens of thousands of Irish women and men have worn the blue helmets on UN peacekeeping operations. We are as proud of the blue helmet as we are of the harp or the shamrock.
Today is an opportunity to pay tribute to the members of the Irish Defence Forces carrying out this critical work amidst the constraints of COVID-19. And I want to highlight in particular the central role of our female peacekeepers, including Brigadier General Maureen O’Brien, who is currently serving in the role of Acting Force Commander with the UNDOF mission in Syria.
In paying tribute to the role played by Irish peacekeepers, Minister Kehoe remembered the peacekeepers who lost their lives on deployment.
The Minister continued:
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, which put women’s’ rights and gender equality at the centre of global, regional and national peace and security efforts. Ensuring that the WPS agenda is implemented is therefore a timely shared priority across the common efforts of the UN, EU and NATO.
The advancement of the Women Peace and Security agenda in peacekeeping operations is an area in which Ireland has taken a proactive role. The promotion of a strong gender perspective is a key element in all our peacekeeping operations. The presence of women contributes greatly with resolving conflict and connecting with local populations. It broadens the skills sets available within a peacekeeping mission and importantly provides role models for women, both at home and abroad. Equitable, durable and sustainable peace and reconciliation cannot be built without women at the table.