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Key to peace, key to protection – women peacekeepers in action

Statement by Ambassador Odd-Inge Kvalheim at Key to peace, key to protection – women peacekeepers in action, 29 May 2020.

I would like to thank Canada, Ghana and Zambia for arranging this meeting, convening a broad panel of experts to discuss the critical role of women in peacekeeping.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Commander de Castro Araujo from Brazil and Major Gawani from India, who today will receive their award as 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocates of the year for their effort in promoting the principles of Resolution 1325 in MINUSCA and UNMISS.

Norway is a longstanding and consistent supporter of UN peacekeeping. We are one of the 152 countries that have endorsed the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations. And, Norway has taken on the role of Champion in the A4P priority commitment area of Women, Peace and Security.

The message from the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations is clear: women should participate fully, effectively and meaningfully at all stages of the peace process; gender mainstreaming is a cross-cutting issue; and work must continue to increase the numbers of women peacekeepers at all levels, including in leadership positions.

If we are to succeed in this ambition, we need to pursue a comprehensive approach. This is not just about increasing the numbers of women. It is also about operationalising 1325 within the UN missions by bringing gender perspectives into UN analyses and decision-making. It’s about making sure that infrastructure and facilities take men and women into consideration. It is about gender–responsive training before and during deployment, and it is about effective recruitment - and retention of women.

Norway strongly supports the inclusion of gender advisers both in peacekeeping missions and at UN headquarters. We believe gender advisers, in addition to having women in leadership positions, is one of the key factors in ensuring a comprehensive approach to the implementation of the WPS agenda.

Norway has over a number of years worked towards the increased inclusion of women in our armed forces and in the police service. Last year, Norway released its fourth continued 4-year Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security. The goal of the Plan is to ensure that the rights, needs and priorities of both women and men are safeguarded throughout all Norwegian efforts aimed at peace and security.

Norway supports the research undertaken as part of Canada’s Elise initiative, in order to further increase our knowledge about barriers to women’s participation and how they can be overcome.

Norway will continue to work towards the full, effective and meaningful participation of women, including the target percentage for UN peacekeeping missions. In this regard, Norway is pleased to contribute both in kind and financially to a newly established UN training program aiming to increase the number of female officers in the UN Police.

We are convinced that more female peacekeepers- and a better gender balance at all levels- is vital to the effective implementation of mission mandates and finding sustainable solutions to conflict. Women peacekeepers are essential to build trust and confidence with local communities and enabling accessing to critical information that would otherwise be difficult to reach. This is key to effective protection of civilians, including against conflict-related sexual violence.

Preventing and responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence is a priority for Norway. We have supported the UN Secretariat in developing the first all-of-mission handbook for “UN Field Missions on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” and are proud to host the launch of this handbook next Friday, in cooperation with the Department of Peace Operations (DPO), the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (OSRSG-SVC).

 

Facts

  • The number of women in the Norwegian police service is now 46%. This is the result of a long-standing national commitment to gender balance, clearly reflected in the number of female police officers that Norway deploys to UN operations: Women have constituted between 30 and 40 percent of Norwegian police contributions in the past years.
  • The number of women is increasing also in the Norwegian armed forces. In 2015, we introduced universal conscription for both women and men, resulting in 29% female conscripts in 2019. Further, women now comprise 13% military staff and 33% civilian staff in the armed forces.
  • All branches in the Norwegian Armed Forces, including the Special Forces, are open to women. In 2014, the Special Forces also created an all-female troop to increase and facilitate the participation of women.
  • We have female senior military and police officers in several key positions, including the Military representative to NATO, the Chief of the Norwegian Air Force and the Norwegian National Police Commissioner.
  • Norway also contributed with the first female Force Commander in UN history, Major General Kristin Lund (UNFICYP Cypres 2014-2016). She ended her impressive career by the end of last year, after an additional gender landmark as Head of Mission for UNTSO from 2017-2019, and having been the highest-ranking female commander in UN history.