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Engineers Improving Field Missions to Support UN Gender Parity

Elsie project team in Bir Lahlou

The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations (funded by the Canadian Government) has partnered with the United Nations to increase the presence and participation of civilian and uniformed women in peacekeeping operations.

The Engineering Support Section (ESS) within the Office of Supply Chain Management (OSCM), Department of Operational Support (DOS), is contributing to this initiative by providing their expertise in facilities and infrastructure (think: development of camp layouts, including accommodations, bathrooms, recreational and  physical security). Their work is aimed at proposing improved minimum standards for mission environments that accommodate the specific needs of women.

This initiative aligns with the Secretary-General’s System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity, which calls for “improving the working and living conditions in field operations with a focus on… improved minimum standards for camp living and working environments.” Furthermore, the initiative encourages the UN to acknowledge the fact that physical surroundings have psychological effects on individuals, their performance, and can directly impact gender targets.

With this in mind, the OSCM-ESS team conducted visits in MINURSO, MINUSCA, UNMISS, UNSOS, and a remote session with UNISFA to become familiarized with each mission setting, to raise general awareness about the initiative, and to promote effective behavioral changes that support the Gender Parity Strategy.

During the sessions the team engaged with mission staff (e.g. Engineers, Gender Focal Points, and representatives of Troop and Police Contributing Countries) to gather feedback on facility improvements, which will be integrated into future technical requirements and contract amendments. All mission staff are encouraged to participate in the Accommodation Satisfaction Survey and send responses to elsie.initiative.project@un.org.

“These familiarization visits were essential because they gave us a first-hand look at the current state of accommodations and the improvements that would increase staff satisfaction – especially for privacy and space. We gained so much valuable feedback on accommodations, facilities, and recreational areas, and eventually, we can share our operational findings with other offices to help bridge the gender gap.” – Ms. Geeta Belas, Project Manager.