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In India, special trainings and all-women peacekeeper units tackle sexual violence
an article by UN women (abridged)

Officers from 16 countries, including, Cyprus, Ghana, India and Tajikistan received training on how to respond to sexual violence in conflict areas.

Marking a first in the history of UN peacekeeping, an all-female Formed Police Unit arrived in Liberia on 30 January to strengthen the rule of law and maintain peace in the war-torn country as part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia(UNMIL). UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

click on photo to enlarge

“If you were a UN peacekeeper in a conflict country, what would you do if you came across a badly wounded teenage girl who had been gang-raped? Which UN rules and regulations would you follow? What would be your responsibility?”

These were just some of the questions that 56 UN peacekeepers considered during a two-day training workshop organized by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) and UN Women in September 2013. It was part of a series of innovative modules designed by UN Women and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) that use videos, photos, stories and real examples to help peacekeepers respond to similar situations of sexual violence during their missions.

Participants are presented with hypothetical scenarios based on real-life cases. They are given detailed information about potential threats, national and international assistance agencies involved, the geography of the area, etc., and asked how each actor should respond. . . .

Since its ground-breaking deployment in 2007, India has sent four all-female police units to Liberia. The success of these police units in the post-war country has inspired two more all–female police units from Bangladesh.

“The presence of female peacekeepers … positively impacts the confidence of the local population; the reporting of gender-based violence increases; and in fact, my troops become role models for the local girls,” says Seema Dhundia, Deputy Inspector General of the Central Reserve Police Force in Chandigarh Union Territory, north of New Delhi. She was the commander of the world’s first all- female UN peacekeeping force that was dispatched to Liberia in 2007.

UN Women in India has facilitated more than 20 training sessions on gender and sexual or gender- based violence prevention and response over the last two years, in collaboration with CUNPK, in both international and national courses. . . .

“Sexual violence is not just a women’s issue, it is a security issue and concerns men because in 99.9 per cent of the cases, men are the perpetrators of sexual violence. It is important that a male, a military officer is talking about this subject. That makes an impact on audiences,” said retired Major General Patrick Cammaert, instructor of the scenario-based training module. . . .

With the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000, the UN Security Council recognized the importance of women’s full involvement in peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes as well as the crucial input they have to offer.

“Women are different from men in peacekeeping situations because they are able to see events with a more humanitarian perspective,” said Flt Lt Kristie Winters, from the Australian Air Force, who attended the multi-country training in September.

Cammaert agrees: “Women peacekeepers do it differently and see the issues from a different angle. There is no doubt that we need more specialized female military officers trained in sexual violence.”

[Note: Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.]


Question(s) related to this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?,

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A recent study by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security is critical of the UN Security Council for its inconsistent implement of Resolution 1325 that calls for an increased role of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  The full report is available on the Internet on the website of

The working group members are an impressive group of active international NGOs: Amnesty International; Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights; Femmes Africa Solidarité; Global Action to Prevent War; Global Justice Center; Human Rights Watch; The Institute for Inclusive Security; International Action Network on Small Arms; International Alert; International Rescue Committee; Refugees International; International Women’s Program of the Open Society Foundations; Social Science Research Council; Women’s Refugee Commission; Women’s Action for New Directions; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Here is the report's Summary of Findings

General trends in the Council over the last 12 years have shown significant development, including in the language and expertise on women, peace and security in resolutions, more expertise available to deploy in terms of gender advisors and women, peace and security, and a more sophisticated understanding of the key issues at the root of this agenda. There is a better understanding of, for example, what it takes to have disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes that are responsive to women; security sector reform that is responsive to women; and post-conflict elections that support women candidates and women voter. However, there is inconsistency in the Council’s deployment of that knowledge. There is still a significant disconnect between the content of reports received by the Council, meetings the Council holds, and resolutions it adopts.

There have been a number of positive developments in the Council’s use of women, peace and security-specific language in its policy over the last year. For the first time, for example, the Council used women, peace and security language in its resolution on Cyprus. However, there have also been inconsistencies. The Council’s initial lack of support for women in September 2011’s resolution on Libya was rectified by strong support in its March 2012 renewal. . ...more.

This report was posted on October 20, 2013.