Indian women peacekeepers inspire Liberian girls

United Nations: Indian women peacekeepers serving in the UN mission in Liberia have been a source of inspiration for the country’s girls, the contingent’s commander has said while terming women as “agents of change”.

The 125-strong women peacekeepers of the Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU), serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) since their deployment in 2007, will finish their tour of duty in February.

Contingent Commander of the Indian Formed Police Unit Commandant Madhu Bala said in the last nine years, the Indian women peacekeepers had become a source of inspiration for the women and girls in Liberia due to their dedication and service.

“People in Liberia have been inspired by our women peacekeepers. Since our deployment in 2007, the interest of Liberian women and girls to join law enforcement agencies has increased. Definitely our women have been the source of inspiration for them,” Madhu told PTI in a phone interview from Liberia.

As the contingent prepares to depart Liberia, Madhu encouraged women and girls in the country to step forward and be a part of the system.

“Women in Liberia can bring a change in society, they should actively participate in the peace process as everybody has a role to play. They should come forward and assume their responsibility with greater confidence,” she said.

She underscored that in all fields of peacekeeping women peacekeepers had proven that they can perform the same role with the same high standards and under the same difficult conditions as their male counterparts.

Noting that till date only India and Bangladesh have deployed all-women formed police units to UN peacekeeping operations, Madhu said that other UN member states should also consider deploying female peacekeepers.

“Deploying women peacekeepers can bring a broad range of benefits both to the mission and to the host country’s women as well,” Madhu said adding that women are “agents of change” and can make a positive impact on peacekeeping environment.

Outlining some of the challenges the peacekeepers faced, she said Ebola was a big challenge in 2014 but they carried out their duties with dedication.

“We remained committed to the security situation and did not deviate from our duty and mandate. None of the peacekeepers wanted to go back and were committed to performing their duty,” she said.

The women peacekeepers were last month honored with medals for their courage and service in maintenance of peace and security in the West African country.

Addressing the Indian peacekeepers, Special Representative of the Secretary-Generalfor Liberia Farid Zarif had expressed his gratitude to the soldiers for their “courage and dedication” in serving Liberia during its time of distress.

India is the largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, with nearly 180,000 troops having served in 44 of the 69 peacekeeping operations so far.