By Darius Spearman (africanelements)
African women are transforming peacekeeping dynamics in conflict zones, showcasing resilience and leadership. Esinam Baah, a Ghanaian Captain, exemplifies this trend by leading UN peacekeeping in Lebanon. She’s part of an increasing presence of African women in peacekeeping, with 173 Ghanaian women in Lebanon’s mission in 2022 (UN News). Téné Maïmouna Zoungrana from Burkina Faso, a corrections officer in the Central African Republic, challenged gender norms and earned the UN Trailblazer Award for her groundbreaking work (Global Issues).
Bridging Gaps with Gender-sensitive Initiatives
These trailblazers are not just frontline personnel but also architects of change. Steplyne Nyaboga, a Kenyan Military Gender Advisor, profoundly impacted the UN Mission in Darfur, focusing on gender dynamics and women’s engagement (Africa.com). Their roles extend beyond peacekeeping to fostering gender-sensitive environments, crucial for sustainable peace.
Support and Progress: A Global Effort
International support, notably the Elsie Initiative Fund, has significantly contributed to this transformation, investing $17 million to enhance the role of women in peacekeeping (UN Women). However, challenges persist. The UN’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028 highlights the need for more balanced gender representation in these missions (United Nations Peacekeeping).
Policy Makers and Academics Weigh In
Academics and policymakers emphasize the unique value women bring to peacekeeping. “Women’s participation in peacekeeping not only promotes gender equality but also improves operational effectiveness,” notes Dr. Amina J. Mohammed, an expert in peace and conflict studies. Policymakers argue for more inclusive policies. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, advocates for women’s voices in peace negotiations to sustain peace (AllAfrica.com).
African women in peacekeeping are breaking barriers and fostering change. Their increasing participation is not just a sign of progress but a necessity for effective and sustainable peace. Embracing their potential will further enhance peacekeeping efforts globally.
About the author:
Darius Spearman is a Professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org