Indian Army’s vice chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand today pitched for greater representation of women in UN peacekeeping missions and said their participation “should not be limited to supportive roles”. He also hoped to increase India’s contribution of women to the missions by the end of the year. Addressing a gathering at an event here, the Vice Chief of Army Staff described conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) as the “worst form of suffering” and asserted that women participation in peacekeeping missions “should not be limited to supportive roles”. “Greater participation of women in areas of conflict prevention was particularly necessary for lasting peace and security… And, gender mainstreaming is a way to end CRSV,” Chand said. He was speaking at the launch of a four-day training programme — Mainstreaming Gender in UN Peacekeeping to end Conflict-related Sexual Violence — jointly hosted by Delhi-based think-tank USI (United Service Institution of India) and UN Women for various stakeholders. “There are already two UNSC resolutions — 1325 and 1820, (in this domain). But, despite resolutions, not much progress been made… Women should play a more active role, from the stage of inception to negotiations to mandate, and even post-conflict resolution,” Chand said.
“I have been made to understand that women representation in UN peacekeeping missions is a mere 4 per cent, and they hope to make it 8 per cent. We hope to make it from our end too, and to make our contribution (of women members) to it, 8 per cent by the end of this year,” he said. UNSC resolution 1820 (of 2008) says that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide”. The Vice Chief of Army Staff also said that some of the principal reasons for CRSV is to control population and trade route, deliberately target ethnic communities and cause humiliation of men and women by act of rape.
“It is also a means of intimidating males who cannot protect their women and a means of ethnic cleansing through forceful impregnation,” he said. Secretary (West) in the MEA, Ruchi Ghanashyam, said, India will continue to be supportive of gender parity in UN peacekeeping missions. “Women need to play a more active role at all levels as their participation helps in successful peace process. Their representation should be in greater numbers in top offices in the UN too,” she said.
Ambassador of Norway to India, Nils Ragnar Kamsvag, said, “If India will do its bit (in increasing women participation), it will work as an inspiration for others.” The training programme brings together 38 officers from the military and police as well humanitarian sectors from India, Bangladesh, Canada, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, the UK, among other countries, the UN Women said.