Friday, June 27, 2014
The Permanent Mission of Rwanda organized a meeting chaired by Minister of State and Permanent Representative Eugène-Richard Gasana on the topic of “Increasing Women’s Participation in Peacekeeping.” The briefers included: the Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia, Ambassador Philippa King; the UN Deputy Military Adviser, Major General Adrian Foster; and Senor Senior Superintendent of Police Ms. Lynder Nkuranga. In attendance were Security Council experts on peacekeeping, military and police advisers, and concerned troop and police contributing countries (T/PCCs) and Member States.
In her remarks, Rwanda’s own Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Lynder Nkuranga shared her insights on Rwanda’s commendable efforts to ensure women are represented in the Rwanda National Police (RNP) and how those efforts have enabled Rwanda to deploy so many women to international peacekeeping operations where they have shared best practices. She explained that when the RNP was formed in 2000 only three percent of the Force consisted of women; but due to the rampant sexual violence that took place during the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, the Government of Rwanda recognised that post-conflict reconstruction and nation building could not be gender neutral. It was essential for women to be involved at all levels and across all sectors, including the country’s military and police institutions. As a result, SSP Nkuranga informed Member States that today women account for twenty percent of the Rwandan police force, and since 2005 Rwanda has managed to send over 400 female police officers as Individual Police Officers and 100 female members of Formed Police Units to UN peacekeeping missions.
Explaining how Rwanda was able to do this, the SSP acknowledged that it has been a work in progress, including the conscious shifting of cultural norms. What was critical was putting in place a gender policy legal framework, which was also enshrined in the Rwandan Constitution of June 4th, 2003 and which calls for at least thirty percent of posts in decision-making organs be granted to women to ensure equality between men and women. In addition, the SSP gave credit to Rwanda’s Vision 2020, which also highlights gender equality throughout its goals. Then, in 2009, Rwanda adopted an NAP to implement resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. SSP Nkuranga noted that this had been very effective in raising awareness of women’s rights, educating girls, and contributing to changing attitudes and stereotypes on gender issues.
Speaking at greater length on the RNP’s actions, the SSP underscored the creation of a Women Police Network, which brings together women in the RNP to share their experiences and discuss challenges they face in their career, as well as to contribute to confidence building. SSP Nkuranga pointed out that the RNP Gender desk has been recognized as a Centre of Excellence for the East African Community region in response to SGBV and child abuse. In 2012, Rwanda won the UN Public Service Award in recognition of Isange services.
Finally, SSP Nkuranga acknowledged that despite the many achievements, there are still challenges that remain. Given that the RNP is only fourteen years old, it still needs to grow the number of females in higher decision making posts. Noting the overall challenges for the broader UN community, the SSP explained that Rwanda was able to shift cultural norms and practices because it understood that women had to play a critical role in nation building and decision making processes. Therefore, there must be political will by Member States to increase the number of women in national organs, including government, police and military or else the SSP warned that they would not be able to provide female peacekeepers for international deployment