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Women in peacekeeping

As peacekeeping has evolved to encompass a broader humanitarian approach, women have become increasingly part of the peacekeeping family.

Women are deployed in all areas – policemilitary and civilian – and have made a positive impact on peacekeeping environments, both in supporting the role of women in building peace and protecting women's rights.

In all fields of peacekeeping, women peacekeepers have proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts. It is an operational imperative that we recruit and retain female peacekeepers.

In 1993, women made up 1% of deployed uniformed personnel. In 2019 , out of approximately 100,000 peacekeepers, women constitute 4.4% of military personnel and 11.1% of police personnel in UN Peacekeeping missions. While the UN encourages and advocates for the deployment of women to uniformed functions, the responsibility for deployment of women in the police and military lies with Member States. UN Police Division launched 'the Global Effort' to recruit more female police officers into national police services and into UN police operations around the world.

Find out more in our gender statistics section to download a monthly breakdown of the number of male and female uniformed personnel working across our missions.

Why is it important to have female peacekeepers?

Female peacekeepers act as role models in the local environment, inspiring women and girls in often male-dominated societies to push for their own rights and for participation in peace processes.

The increased recruitment of women is critical for:

  • empowering women in the host community;
  • addressing specific needs of female ex-combatants during the process of demobilizing and reintegration into civilian life;
  • helping make the peacekeeping force approachable to women in the community;
  • interviewing survivors of gender-based violence;
  • mentoring female cadets at police and military academies;
  • interacting with women in societies where women are prohibited from speaking to men.

The presence of women peacekeepers can also:

  • help to reduce conflict and confrontation;
  • improve access and support for local women;
  • provide role models for women in the community;
  • provide a greater sense of security to local populations, including women and children;
  • broaden the skill set available within a peacekeeping mission.

Key initiatives in the Department of Peace Operations

  • UN Military have recently deployed a record number of women into the most senior military roles in UN peace operations ‐ with two women Force Commanders and two women Deputy Force Commanders now serving in the field.  
  • UN Police has created a talent pipeline of 170 female police officers to help identify and support women for leadership positions.  
  • Member States are now requested to nominate a minimum of 20% women for individual police officer positions and 30% for justice and corrections government‐provided personnel. 
  • Justice and Corrections Service is supporting a series of pre‐deployment trainings specifically for women corrections officers.  
  • Priority is being given to Formed Police Units that include women, and UN Military is introducing Engagement Teams comprising at least 50% women. 
  • Qualified women personnel are prioritized for individual staff military positions at UNHQ and field missions, as well as justice and corrections government‐provided personnel. 

Call to action for Member States

Achieving Gender Parity depends on the continued collective efforts of the United Nations and Member States. In 
line with the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration of Shared Commitments calling for uniformed women’s 
participation in peacekeeping, progress can be supported by Member States to ensure that: 

  • Information on deployment opportunities reaches decision‐makers and women officers in national services. 
  • More women are recruited and trained in national services to be available to deploy to peace operations, as well as helping national services perform better at home. 
  • All nominations and deployments to UN peace operations meet or exceed the uniformed gender parity targets.