The Contribution of Zimbabwean Uniformed Women in Peacekeeping in Africa: Experiences From Liberia and East Timor

The Contribution of Zimbabwean Uniformed Women in Peacekeeping in Africa: Experiences From Liberia and East Timor

Jeffrey Kurebwa (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe) and Sikhulekile Ndlovu (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2364-3.ch010

Abstract

This study sought to assess the contribution of Zimbabwean uniformed women in peacekeeping in Africa with specific reference to Liberia and East Timor. The study found out that despite being a key ingredient for successful operational impact in any peacekeeping mission, the contribution was not greatly appreciated due to a variety of factors. The study also noted that uniformed women peacekeepers were grappling with a plethora of challenges ranging from language and cultural barriers, a low number of female peacekeepers, gender stereotypes, to a non-family status of most United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. The study concludes that UN member states should vigorously conduct more sustained recruitment of women into national institutions such as military, police and prisons and correctional service to increase the pool of personnel for subsequent deployment to peacekeeping duties. The UN should look at the possibility of reviewing some of its policies to reduce the negative impact caused by the prolonged absence of peacekeepers away from their families.
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Background

Protracted intra-state conflicts in Liberia and East Timor were marked by widespread sexual and gender-based violence, which continued in the aftermath of the civil wars and was typically accompanied by impunity for the perpetrators (Kember, 2010). In 2004, a UN report peacekeepers in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti were criticized for sexual abuse of young women in return for money, food, and sex (Bridges & Horsfall, 2009). Top UN officials credited the arrival of women peacekeepers for helping improve behavior among UN peacekeepers. According to Bridges & Horsfall (2009), the perception and reputation of peacekeepers in the field are essential in a peacekeeping mission’s outcome. Female peacekeepers are well regarded by members of host countries; this is a fundamental advantage. The uniform commands a level of respect and authority; simultaneously, women’s presence normalizes the force and reinforces the peacemaking agenda of the UN peacekeeping troops.

Despite the crucial role played by women’s participation in peacekeeping, the number of women participating in peace operations sadly remains quite low. International efforts also appear to be less significant as women makeup barely 2% of UN military positions, 10% of UN police, and are conspicuously rare in senior leadership (McCarthy, 2011). Women’s participation is required in peace-keeping missions to ensure lasting peace. However, women remain under-represented in peacekeeping missions. The needs and perspectives of women continue to be overlooked in post-conflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes as well as in security sector reform, rehabilitation of justice, and the rule of law (Dharmapuri, 2013). Rebuilding democracy and creating a stable society in war-torn states shall remain elusive if women continue to be under-represented in peace-building processes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intelligence Gathering: The process of collecting information/meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples.

United Nations: An international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States.

Conflict Prevention: Is the object of a wide range of policies and initiatives; its aim is to avoid the violent escalation of a dispute.

Security Forces: An umbrella term frequently used to describe statutory organizations with internal security mandates.

Gender Mainstreaming: A globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality.

Peacekeeping: The active maintenance of a truce between nations or communities, especially by an international military force.

Standpoint Feminism: A theoretical perspective that argues that knowledge stems from social position.

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