Civilians in conflict zones face horrifying experiences of violence — particularly women and girls who become targets of gender-based attacks and abuse.
To create a safer world for them, more women must be involved in peacekeeping processes.
The Department of National Defence’s current Defence Policy Review is an opportunity to make this a priority for Canada. The timing couldn’t be better — as we resume our participation in United Nations Peace Operations around the world, we can show how women are essential to successful peace processes.
The UN itself pushed for gender-based analyses of conflict situations and the inclusion of women at all levels of the peace process when it passed Resolution 1325. And since its ratification in 2000, Canada has signed off on seven additional treaties that recognize the importance of women in peace and security processes.
Canada can now live up to its international commitments and act as a leader in improving the lives of women and children affected by conflict by having more women participate on the ground.
With forced marriage, systematic sexual and gender-based crimes, restrictions on education, poor access to healthcare and restrictions on participation in public life, the number of gender-based threats to global security require women to help to defuse them.
Since women and children are the primary victims of violence and abuse, female personnel have achieved higher rates of success at approaching these victims, who would otherwise be largely silent.
And women on the ground during peace operations foster greater trust in the communities in which they serve, leading to an increased reliability in intelligence and opportunities for capacity building.
In short, involving more women in peace processes give UN missions higher chances of success.