`Indian women peacekeepers an inspiration for Liberians`

Indian women peacekeepers are an inspiration for young Liberian girls to join the West African nation`s law enforcement agencies, a top UN official said here.

United Nations: Indian women peacekeepers
are an inspiration for young Liberian girls to join the West
African nation`s law enforcement agencies, a top UN official
said here.

"The inspiration you have provided to Liberian girls and
women will be among the many lasting impressions of your work
here in Liberia, which will leave a positive legacy in the
rule of law in Liberia," Ellen Margrethe Loj, Special
Representative of Secretary General to Liberia, said yesterday
while decorating 125 Indian women peacekeepers.

The group serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)
was awarded peacekeeping medals for their contribution to
peace and stability in Liberia. Among the top brass of the UN
and Liberian government attending the medal ceremony was
Indian ambassador to Liberia, Shamma Jain.

During its 15-year-long civil war, Liberian women have
suffered from rampant rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The peacekeeping unit, comprising of Indian women, is the
first all female UN police unit, which has been stationed in
Liberia since 2007, and will return in 2010.

Women presently compromise eight per cent of the 10,000
UN police officers, and two per cent of the 80,000 military
personnel. The UN is making efforts to engage more women
peacekeepers in their missions all over the world.

Speaking at the Security Council on protecting women
against sexual violence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
recently cited Indian women peacekeepers in Liberia as an
example that must be replicated in UN peacekeeping missions
all over the world.

"It is also very important that in Liberia, United
Nations mission includes an all women police unit from India.
That all women police unit has helped motivate more Liberian
women to become police officers and the mission has launched a
joint UN-Liberian campaign against rape," Loj said.

She observed that in sending all-female Police Unit to
the peacekeeping Mission, India was complying with Security
Council resolution 1325 that mandates women should play a more
active role in peacekeeping efforts.

The top UN official lauded Commander Annie Abraham for
her leadership. "The unit hit the ground running on arrival
and showed itself a capable force, protecting UN officials and
VIPs, as well as protecting various installations," she said.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, "be the change that you want to
see in the world", Loj noted Indian policewomen had infused a
culture of tolerance, a tradition of respect and a natural
inclination towards peaceful co-existence in UN operation.

"Our behaviour must be a demonstration of our commitment
to uphold the essential qualities of trust and respect in our
daily interactions with our Liberian brothers and sisters,"
she said.

"Your medical outreach and awareness campaigns to promote
proper hygiene and sanitation have touched the lives of many
community members in Congo Town; you have adopted the pupils
of Hebron Orphanage and Victory Chapel School, and you have
positively changed their lives," the UN representative said.

India remains one of the largest troop contributors to
the UN with its personnel stationed in warn-torn countries
such as Iraq, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Sudan, Haiti and Liberia.

Bureau Report