Women and peacekeeping: Zappia, more women will improve missions’ efficiency

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NEW YORK, APRIL 11 – Italy, the top troop contributor in the Western Group and one of the most generous contributors to the peacekeeping budget, strongly believes that more women in peacekeeping will improve the efficiency of UN missions. “Experience has proved that women – be they peacekeepers, civilian staff, gender advisers or gender experts – play a fundamental role in enhancing mandate delivery and in improving the protection of civilians as well as the safety and security of peacekeepers and humanitarian actors”, the Italian Permanent Representative Mariangela Zappia said today during a Security Council meeting on women and peacekeeping.

“We should redouble our efforts to make UN Peacekeeping Missions fit for women and increase the presence of women”, said the Italian Ambassador, stressing that at the national level, in recent years, Italy has made every effort to integrate the gender perspective at all levels and in all branches of its military organization. The Ministry of Defense has a Gender Advisor, a Joint Council on gender perspectives, and an Equal opportunities and gender perspective Unit. Training curricula for the Armed Forces, Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza include gender issues.

More can be done, said Zappia: “The Security Council has a role to play by calling the Secretariat, Heads of Missions as well as TCCs and PCCs to ensure that the gender perspective is always duly taken into account, addressing persistent barriers and challenges to the deployment of women. Special Representatives and Force Commanders should make every effort to promote the active and meaningful involvement of women in situation analysis, in planning as well as inactivities on the field, particularly those aiming at building trust with the local population and strengthening partnerships with local female organizations”.

The Security Council meeting was opened by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making”, Guterres said, describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide. “This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all. This year the Secretariat rolled out the “Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.

The Ambassador Italian remarked that women deployed in UN missions should be stable interlocutors of the local female population: “Our experience on the ground, especially in Southern Lebanon and Afghanistan, show that whenever there is interaction between female soldiers and the local female population, such interaction is fruitful and successful. In a recent case, one of our most brilliant female UNIFIL soldiers, building on her experience as Chief of the West Sector Commander s Close Protection Team, went back to Lebanon after her term in UNIFIL, to train the Lebanese female soldiers of the Presidential Guard, in the framework of our bilateral assistance to the country”.

This comprehensive approach to women and peacekeeping must also serve to further advance the fight against the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse: Italy supports a zero tolerance policy, also through a new contribution to a Trust Fund for victims. (@OnuItalia)