Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Making the World Safe for Women

The United Nations has for a long time recognized the challenges and difficulties surrounding gender disparities in post-conflict areas. To make sure that women are involved and included in the development of their country, “gender officers” have become a regular part of the UN peacekeeping team, with the specific duty of making sure women’s voices are heard throughout the process.

According to Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie GuĂ©henno, gender officers have “a unique opportunity to support women to pick up the pieces of their war-shattered lives, and to meaningfully embrace the opportunities that are presented for them to contribute to charting the future direction of their countries.”

Such efforts are implemented in country-specific ways. Efforts have ranged from increasing the number of women elected to public office in countries including Burundi and Afghanistan, supporting the adoption of “gender sensitive” laws to combat rape and other forms of gender-based violence, and encouraging the national police of countries such as Liberia and Somalia to recruit more female officers.