I thank you Amb. O’Neil.
Hon’ble Minister, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates – good morning.
I am delighted to join today’s event to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers and the POC week. It is only fitting that the event highlights the contribution of women peacekeepers to peace and protection in line with the theme of the day. I take this occasion to salute the women peacekeepers globally for their outstanding contribution to international peace and security. As a tribute to UN peacekeepers, this year Bangladesh has issued a set of commemorative stamps with UN Post, which includes a stamp featuring the first ever women fighter pilots from Bangladesh deployed to UN peace operations. As one of the countries closely involved with the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 on WPS, our commitment to women in peacekeeping is total.
The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of having more women peacekeepers. It is well recognized that women generally enjoy more trust and confidence of the community they serve. And as we battle the pandemic, they are at the forefront in carrying out vital peace and POC tasks to tackle the pandemic, and providing humanitarian assistance to host communities. Women have proved how effective they are in addressing gender aspects of conflicts, including conflict-related sexual violence. Yet the number of women in peacekeeping operations remains very low.
Allow me to briefly share some thoughts on how to ensure women’s meaningful, equal, and full participation in peace operations:
First, if I share from our own experience – in Bangladesh we have adopted specific provisions and incentives to encourage women to take up peacekeeping challenges. Our National Action Plan on WPS that we adopted last November further reinforces women’s greater role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. These measures have contributed significantly to enhance the participation of our women peacekeepers in UN peace operations.
Second, it would be imperative to adopt a whole of society approach to help women overcome societal and cultural barriers to join peace operations; as often that would mean addressing deeply entrenched gender norms in society and our cultures. We have quite effectively addressed this.
Third, for women to be effective in peacekeeping settings particularly in POC, there is no alternative to adequate training and capacity building in critical areas such as patrolling, crowd control management, humanitarian assistance, etc.
Finally, incentivizing women through necessary policy adjustments such as 6-month rotation, childcare support back home, gender friendly accommodation etc, can be immensely helpful. We are happy to partner with Canada in the Elsie initiative towards that end.
I will rest it there; and once again wish our peacekeepers warm greetings of Peacekeepers Day. I thank you all.