Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canadian government’s launch of the `Elsie Initiative’, intended to encourage women’s participation in peacekeeping operations, at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial on November 15, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canadian government’s launch of the `Elsie Initiative’, intended to encourage women’s participation in peacekeeping operations, at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial on November 15, 2017.
Canada has granted CAD$15 million to kickstart the initiative, as part of the country’s feminist foreign policy.
It aims to incentivise the deployment of more women in peacekeeping operations, including in positions of leadership and protection-orientated fields, by developing a systemic approach towards placement.
It will provide tailored technical assistance to countries that contribute peacekeepers in order to ensure the right conditions for female deployment in operations.
UN missions will receive assistance to ensure they benefit from women’s increased participation, including financial support from a global fund.
A monitoring and evaluation system will also be implemented so that the initiative can be adjusted to fully integrate within UN peacekeeping operations and offer a comprehensive approach.
In 2015, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2242, which set a target of doubling the rate of women as military and police peacekeepers, currently at 3.7%, and 9.5% respectively, by 2020.
Current efforts towards this goal mean it would take 37 years to reach, rather than the proposed five.
Along with resolution 2242, the initiative will be acting on the recommendations on gender-responsive peacekeeping given by the Global Study on Women, Peace and Security and the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
The initiative has been named after Canada’s feminist icon Elsie MacGill, who was the first woman ever to earn an aeronautical engineering degree and the first Canadian female to receive an electrical engineering bachelor’s degree, as well as a campaigner for the rights of women and people living with disabilities.
She served as a commissioner of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and as Canadian representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
In a joint statement at the launch, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Pramila Patten, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said: “When we do not have enough women in our peacekeeping operations, when our blue helmets do not receive the right training to adequately protect women and girls, when we do not have the right systems in place to curb abuses and sexual exploitation, the UN pays a daily price in our reputation and our effectiveness.
“We see, time and time again, that women have a comparative advantage in reaching out to local women and addressing their security concerns, including to prevent and respond to the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence.”
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