Female police officers serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world have taken part in a training conference this week as part of the world body’s ongoing efforts to try to recruit more females to the ranks of its police.
A multinational contingent of more than 20 female peacekeepers participated in a five-day conference in the United States city of Seattle that was organized by the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) and attracted hundreds of officers from around the globe.
The conference, which ended today, heard presentations from UN staff serving in eight separate peacekeeping missions, including Timor-Leste (UNMIT), Liberia (UNMIL), Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Sudan’s Darfur region (UNAMID), as well as from senior staff at UN Headquarters.
The UN Police (UNPOL) presentations form just one part of a broader drive by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to recruit more women to serve in field operations.
The goal is to have women comprise 20 per cent of all police officers serving on UN peacekeeping missions by 2014 – compared to the current rate of about 8 per cent.
Ann-Marie Orler, the Deputy UN Police Adviser, said last month that, “by having more women officers deployed in peacekeeping missions, they inspire more women to join their local police services, and this in turn will in the future give contributing countries a larger base from which to recruit officers.”
Ms. Orler noted that women and children are frequently more comfortable reporting their experiences, especially if they are traumatic, to female officers.
One of the UNPOL participants in Seattle, Ann Tusiime (working for the UN Mission in Sudan), said it had been inspiring to see so many female police officers at the conference.
“It will go a long way in recruitment for women to the UN as we have reached out to many women and they too will speak about what the UN is doing,” she said.