This morning the BBC has an article about the first all-female UN peacekeeping troop. The group is comprised of 105 Indian women, who have been based in Liberia for the last 6 months. The group was initially set up as an experiment, and it was gone so well that their mission has been extended to a full year.
The women who make up this troop were selected from all over India and have been trained in drug raids, law enforcement, and crowd control among other things. It is also hoped that their presence will encourage local women to join local law enforcement groups. There is a push to bring more women into law enforcement in hopes to curb down sexual assault and exploitation, as well as helping local women feel safer.
Women in UN peacekeeping troops have been woefully underrepresented. In 2006 women made up only 4% of all peacekeeping troops. The UN currently encourages women to become involved in peacekeeping; here are a few highlighted stories.
Women have been making their mark as soldieries elsewhere around the world. Spain’s arms forces are currently 15% women, the Chinese island of Xisha also host an all women trope. Still it’s really too bad that so many of these articles focus not on the merit and ability of these women, but on their ability to add to the beautiful scenery (Israel recently had the “lovely idea” of having women soldiers pose in their underwear for Maxim magazine in order to boost the country’s image abroad!), or focus on how much these women miss their families (as if any soldier station abroad won’t miss their family).
The Christian Science Monitor has another article on the matter.
Image from Grewal, Shabnam. “All girl UN squad a success”, BBC, June 21, 2007.