Gender and conflict

Challenges for female peacekeepers can come from within UN militaries

Leiden University

On 6 March 2019, Arizona Senator Martha McSally gave testimony at an armed services committee hearing that she had been raped by a senior officer while serving in the US Air Force. She said that she did not report it at the time for fear of retribution. While the sexual abuse of women by peacekeepers in host countries has generated significant policy changes in UN peacekeeping, sexual abuse within missions remains a little-discussed issue. It’s one of several problems faced by female peacekeepers that come from the peace operations themselves, and not from the challenging environments in which they work.

Between 1989 and 1993, just 1.7% of military peacekeepers deployed by the UN were female. In 2001, the proportion of women in military posts serving in UN missions had increased to little more than 4%. Currently, the number of female soldiers serving in operations abroad is 2,930, or 3.87% of all peacekeeping troops. Despite these low numbers, having women in peacekeeping missions is associated with success.

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