UN Cinema celebrates the role of female peacekeepers
To mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May, UN Cinema launched at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), Islamabad, with its first screening of ‘A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers,’ a documentary on the role of women in international peacekeeping.
In his opening remarks, Major General Per Lodin, Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer (CMO), UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan’s (UNMOGIP’s) highlighted the importance of female peacekeepers and the evolving nature of UN peacekeeping operations around the world. He mentioned that in all fields of peacekeeping, women have proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts.
UNMOGIP is the second oldest UN peacekeeping mission that monitors the ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and working boundary in Jammu and Kashmir. CMO emphasized the importance of having female peacekeepers in UNMOGIP’s mission.
“In traditional missions like UNMOGIP, more women are needed. In a Muslim dominated area, this is even more important because there is a need to reach out to the whole population. Female observers help with that,” he said.
Gender parity amongst UN staff is a priority for the UN Secretary-General. There is a good balance at the UN Headquarters but in peacekeeping operations and special political missions, the figures are more challenging. In March 2017, out of approximately 98,000 peacekeepers, women constituted 3.4% of military personnel and roughly 10% of police personnel in peacekeeping missions around the world.
Thailand, South Korea and Croatia are three top countries sending female Military Observers to UNMOGIP. However, UNMOGIP is making a deliberate effort to get more females on board by requesting and encouraging other troop-contributing countries to send more female peacekeepers to the mission.
UN Cinema is a collaboration between the UN Information Centre and PNCA to feature films and documentaries focused on development, humanitarian issues, and human rights from across the world.
Directed and produced by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Geeta Gandbir the documentary follows a unit of 160 Bangladeshi women who, between June 2013 and July 2014, travel far from their friends and families to join the United Nations Stabilizing Mission in Haiti. They form one of the world’s first all-female, predominantly Muslim peacekeeping units; shattering every stereotype the world holds about the capabilities of Muslim women.
Vittorio Cammarota, Director UN Information Centre suggested this new partnership is instrumental in increasing the number of Pakistani people that information can be shared with on what the United Nations System is working on in Pakistan and abroad.