In this story series, UN Peacekeeping shows the impact of Action for Peacekeeping , which guides peace operations across 12 active missions.
Story by Annalysse Mason
“During [the] second patrol of our platoon to Noong and Kollam areas, the young girls of the village invited us to their tukul (hut), which is something they never do when only male soldiers patrol the area,” informs Captain Seema Gowdar.
Captain Gowder is an Engineering Officer who was recently deployed with 26 fellow women peacekeepers to the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) as second-in-command of the Indian Engagement Platoon, India’s largest deployment of women peacekeepers in 15 years.
The United Nations Engagement Platoon, a relatively novel military capability within UN Peacekeeping, refers to groups of military peacekeepers who are deployed to support peace operations with engaging communities, particularly women and children. By deploying mixed teams that comprise around 50% of women, the capability contributes to implementing the mission mandates and promote gender parity.
“Engagement platoons help build trust, prevent conflicts, and support stabilization efforts. This is crucial because addressing the needs of entire communities, including those of women and girls, requires the building and strengthening of relationships,” says Lieutenant Colonel Lausanne Nsengimana Ingabire.
The UN office of Military Affairs, where Lt. Col. Ingabire works, gives priority to developing a curriculum that supports Member States to prepare their peacekeepers for deployment. The curriculum focuses on providing tailored, pre-deployment training for platoons which includes scenario-based exercises involving the technical requirements needed to engage with civil society members.
In the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the Indian Engagement Platoon and the Ghanaian contingent’s Engagement Platoon are making an impact.
In Abyei, the diversity provided by the Ghana contingent’s Engagement Platoon is also yielding positive results. For local leaders in Majbong, a community in Southeast Abyei, ongoing support received from the platoon comes at the right time.
“The mixed patrols are paving the way for normal life to continue. You see, their presence is boosting the confidence of members of the community to go about daily activities safely,” asserts Deng Paul Mankuol, a traditional chief.
The Indian Engagement Platoon and the Ghanaian Engagement Platoon represent two examples of the way diverse teams can make UN peace operations effective.
|Implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda is a key area of the Action for Peacekeeping agenda and its implementation strategy A4P+, to ensure full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of the peace process. In Abyei, the Elsie Initiative Fund is using collective resources to increase the meaningful participation of uniformed women in UN peace operations by funding accommodation improvements to make women’s living conditions in campsites equal to their male counterparts.