Abyei Peackeeping Unit

India has deployed a platoon of women peacekeepers in Abyei on the border of Sudan and South Sudan as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force. This is India�s largest single unit of women peacekeepers in a UN Mission since it deployed the first-ever all women�s contingent from the Central Reserve Police Force in Liberia in 2007.

Contingent Composition:

  • The platoon includes two women Army officers � a Major from the Corps of Signals and a Captain from the Corps of Engineers. The contingent has 25 women soldiers from the Corps of Military Police (CMP) and the Assam Rifles, senior Defence officials familiar with the matter said. The CMP is the only arm of the Army which was opened for recruitment of women soldiers in 2021.

Role of Female Engagement Team (FET):

  • The UN had requested member states to deploy female engagement teams (FET) with infantry battalion groups in UN Missions to deal with situations involving women and children who suffer the most in a conflict situation,� the official said.
  • �The tasks given to FETs include conduct of joint patrols, dialogue with local women or girls, assistance during humanitarian crises, information gathering and perception management,� the official said. Earlier in the day, a statement by India�s Permanent Representative in New York said the soldiers will specialise in community outreach, besides performing extensive security related tasks as well.

Duration of Deployment:

  • The contingent will remain deployed in Abyei for a period of six months. Another Defence official said that the UN seeks at least 19 per cent women officers of the total vacancies released to the Army. �However, the Army had sent a larger share of women officers, taking the percentage to 21,� the official said.

Women in UN Missions:

  • In the past too, women officers have served in various conflict-torn countries in challenging assignments � in medical duties and as military observers among others � as part of UN Missions. However, this is the first time an all-women Army contingent has been deployed in Abyei on a UN mission. A woman Army officer who served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that serving in a conflict zone as part of the mission is challenging, enriching, and satisfying.

This move by India is in line with the United Nations� Gender Parity drive and is a step towards empowering women and promoting their participation in the peacekeeping efforts of the country.

 

Written by IAS POINT

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