Global UN Peacekeepers Arrive For First Ever Gender And Peacekeeping Seminar Held In Malaysia

Oct 31, 2011

Over 150 international and national participants are in Kuala Lumpur to attend the seminar on “Promoting Peace through Mainstreaming Gender in Peacekeeping Operations”, jointly organised by the Ministry of Defence, Malaysia (MINDEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on October 31 and November 1, 2011. | Photo: UNDP Malaysia

The seminar was officiated jointly by Dato’ Seri Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Ahmad Badarudin, Chief of Joint Forces together with Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam and His Excellency Shigeru Nakamura, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Japan.

The seminar presents a strategic opportunity for UNDP and the Government of Malaysia to facilitate an open dialogue and multi-sectoral collaboration on trends relating to gender and peacekeeping in recent years and share common concerns and strategies for moving forward.  As a country firmly established in the global community as a committed contributor to peacekeeping troops to UN missions, this seminar on gender and peacekeeping represents Malaysia’s commitment in support of both on global agenda for gender and peacekeeping as well as policies which support women’s development.   

This seminar is part of the UNDP-Government of Malaysia ‘Capacity Building Support for Malaysia’s Role in Multidimensional Peacekeeping Training’ project which began in 2010. Supported by the UNDP-Japan Partnership Fund, the project seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Center (MPTC) to provide multidimensional peacekeeping training particularly in the areas of civil-military coordination and gender to peacekeepers in Asia and Africa.

Speakers and participants from United Nation Peacekeeping Missions; the United Nations Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO); other United Nations agencies including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); appropriate government and peacekeeping representatives from countries in the Africa and Asia; particularly countries which contribute the highest number of peacekeepers; and representatives of peacekeeping training centers, top universities and think tanks on peacekeeping and gender will all be attending the two-day seminar.

Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam said, “The international community has thus significantly highlighted gender aspects of peacekeeping as an area warranting particular consideration, especially as the concept of security is expanded to include its human dimensions. Peace and security are no longer solely military concepts. Poverty alleviation, human development, protection of the environment, and promotion of human rights of women and men are now integral parts of these concepts.

It is now also globally recognized that gender equality and women’s empowerment are core human rights that lie at the heart of development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite such recognition, in the case of peacekeeping operations, misconceptions still persist that gender mainstreaming is synonymous with increasing the number of women in peacekeeping. However, in reality it is more about making a commitment to identifying the differential impacts of conflicts on the lives of women, men, girls and boys, and to proposing practical solutions to respond to the specific needs identified.”

The seminar aims to analyze and to identify the major challenges posed for integrating women and gender issues in UN peacekeeping missions within the Africa-Asia context with particular emphasis on implementing gender mainstreaming and increasing female representation in missions in an effective and sustainable way, examine and promote the positive impacts of women peacekeepers, particularly amongst military personnel,  promote an understanding of the roles of and challenges faced by stakeholders in peacekeeping missions and strategies for negotiating conflicting interests and priorities to ensure that gender is a fundamental part of peacekeeping operations and to create networks amongst stakeholders which will provide more scope for multi-sectoral collaboration on gender and peacekeeping issues

The event will feature eight sessions over two days examining various aspects of integrating gender into peacekeeping both at the international and national levels.  Issues related to the challenges of making progress in integrating gender into peacekeeping missions, gender mainstreaming and female representation, sexual exploitation and abuse, violence against women, civilian protection and, international commitments to gender leadership in peacekeeping will be discussed.

The seminar will then produce an executive summary report on gender and peacekeeping issues which will contain a set of recommendations for the consideration of relevant institutions and governments involved in peacekeeping efforts. The report will provide an analysis of the trends and progress in gender and peacekeeping globally; and a set of policy recommendations for further deliberation and potential follow up of peacekeeper-contributing countries and relevant partners. The executive summary report will be published and distributed to all relevant partners and interested parties for both their information and consideration and for further action.

“The ongoing perception also exists that gender mainstreaming is solely about the empowerment of women. Although this is necessary in many cases to bridge longstanding gaps in political, educational and economic opportunities for women and girls that can be compounded by conflict, the empowerment of women remains just one component of the broader goal of building equal opportunities for both women and men to participate in post-conflict processes.

Recognizing this, the United Nations Security Council adopted its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security more than 10 years ago. The resolution holds the international community accountable for the protection of women and provides recommendations in key areas, including reversing the marginalisation of women’s perspectives in processes for building peace and security; addressing the adverse consequences of war on women; ensuring justice for victims of crimes related to gender-based violence; recognising the leadership potential of women and helping to unleash their capacities as agents of change in rebuilding post conflict societies.” concluded Mr. Malhotra.

“Our support for UN efforts in peacekeeping becomes one of our fundamental defence principles. We have been actively supporting UN peacekeeping missions globally for 51 years, with over 26,000 Malaysian military personnel and 1000 civilian police deployed to missions in more than twenty countries. In acknowledging that peacekeeping operations today have brought new scope and dimension with regard to the standard and conduct of peacekeeping operations, the Ministry of Defence of Malaysia established the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre (MPTC) in 1996,” Dato’ Seri Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Ahmad Badaruddin said.

As a result of the current UNDP supported project, the Malaysia’s Peacekeeping Training Centre in Port Dickson has strengthened its capacities and mandate as an international training centre. The project also accentuates Malaysia’s long-standing commitment to South-South cooperation and will allow Malaysia to share its expertise in peacekeeping with other Asian and African countries, many of whom are the biggest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations.

He added that “The main role of the centre is to routinely prepare Malaysian armed forces personnel to conduct operational duties in peacekeeping missions, while occasionally providing training to civilian police and civilians engaged in peacekeeping operations. While the participants are primarily Malaysians, they also come from other countries under the Malaysian Defence Cooperation Programme (MDCP)”.

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