29 May 2009
Women peacekeepers in Tanzania ready for Darfur
The Government of the Republic of Tanzania has called for more women to be included in United Nations Peacekeeping missions in order to recognize and promote their position and role in peace and security operations. Addressing guests during the commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in Dar es Salaam, the Deputy Minister of Defense and National Service lamented the few number of women in peacekeeping operations and called it an anomaly which needed to be addressed.
The Minister underscored the Government’s determination to heed the United Nations’ call to increase the number of female personnel in UN Peacekeeping operations. “The government will do whatever is necessary to increase the participation of female personnel in our country’s troops for peacekeeping operations in the near future” he stated.
In a statement presented on behalf of the UN Secretary-General by the acting UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, the importance of involving more local women in peacemaking, peace building and peacekeeping operations was illustrated. “The point is not to achieve gender parity for its own sake” states the Secretary-General, “the imperative is to draw on the unique and powerful contribution women can make. Female blue helmets, human rights monitors and other mission staff offer new skills and styles of functioning in the ever-evolving field of peacekeeping. Often, they can better communicate with local women, generating a greater sense of security while serving as an example of women’s empowerment.”
Acknowledging that there are still far too few women peacekeepers, the Secretary-General hailed the Security Council landmark resolution 1325 for being “…the first omnibus text to recognize that women bear the brunt of armed conflicts, and should have a commensurate role in their prevention and resolution.”
Among the 132 peacekeepers who lost their lives in the line of duty – the highest one-year total in the history of UN peacekeeping – were ten women, underlining the fact that female personnel are playing an increasingly important and risky role in peacekeeping.
Tanzania is in the process of deploying a battalion to join the UN African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).