UAE Donates essential commodities to support women in peacekeeping in Tanzania

The consignment comprises items including sanitaryware, a mix of hygiene and health items and toiletries, a gift from the UAE Her Highness Sheikha Fatima.

The United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Tanzania, His Excellency Khalifa AbdulRahman Al Marzouqi recently handed over to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, a large consignment of essential commodities to support women in peacekeeping at the Peacekeeping Training Centre in Kunduchi, Dar es Salaam. The consignment was received by the Minister of Defence and National Service, Honourable Elias John Kwandikwa who was accompanied by other senior government officials and senior officers from the Tanzania Peoples’ Defence Forces (TPDF).

The consignment which comprises items including sanitaryware, a mix of hygiene and health items and toiletries, is a gift from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak of the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking at the handover ceremony Ambassador AbdulRahman Al Marzouqi said the initiative was part of efforts aimed at enhancing women's participation and leadership in the security and peace sectors. Through these efforts, the President of the General Women’s Union, the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and the family development Foundation in the United Arab Emirates, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak aims to establish networks to support women in peacekeeping around the world, and promote the achievement of the strategic goals of UN Resolution 1325, which emphasize the importance of women's effective participation in establishing peace and maintaining security by focusing on providing the necessary training for women’s cadres.

He explained that the initiative in 2018 facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Arab Emirates and the UN Women to hold a series of training that saw 357 women from 17 countries in the Arab, Africa and Asia, receiving training in support of the UN Resolution 1325.

“This pioneering training program sponsored by the UAE Government and hosted by the Khawla Bint Al-Azwar School in Abu Dhabi, has achieved unprecedented successes and accomplishments within two years. It is the first of its kind in the world to train women from other countries on military action, which demonstrates in practical terms, the support of the UAE to empower women in all sectors,” said Ambassador Abdulrahman Al Marzouqi.

Following the success of the first training course, a partnership agreement between the United Arab Emirates and UN Women was established to expand the scope of participation to include countries from Africa and Asia in an initiative unprecedented in the history of the international organization.

“Empowerment of Women is one of the main pillars of the National Agenda of the United Arab Emirates, which has always supported the establishment of peace and security around the world and believes that the presence of women in peacebuilding processes is fundamental to its success,” he said.

Women peacekeepers are great role models for girls

On his part, the Minister of Defense and National Service, Honourable Elias John Kwandikwa said his Ministry would like to work with partners such as the UAE who are supporting Government’s efforts to promote the inclusion of women in the male-dominated sectors such as the peace and security. He explained that women in peacekeeping are great role models for girls both in Tanzania and in the countries where they are deployed to work. “This is one critical sector we should continue to invest in to change the face of peacekeeping troops, and ensure the inclusion of more women, especially in decision making positions. It will also inspire girls and encourage them to join the military, and aim higher,” said Hon. Kwandikwa. Tanzanian women peacekeepers, he added, continue to participate in peace processes, including taking on political roles, leading disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and providing trainings on income-generating projects, and health education to women in the local communities, as well as supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

 But not all is rosy for women in peacekeeping

Honourable Kwandikwa said despite many success stories reflecting women peacekeepers’ capacity to deliver even in the most dangerous territories, there are still not nearly enough women in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. There is evidence that the few that are deployed to fulfil operational roles, at times end up reassigned to administrative duties on arrival at mission, leaving them feeling marginalized, unable to meaningfully participate or demonstrate their full potential. “This gender gap on missions should be addressed so that women do not become discouraged.”

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Zlatan Milisic reiterated that the gender gap among military officers remains significant across the world. He said Tanzania has made some progress through the inclusion of women in peacekeeping missions, making it the 13th largest UN contributor and 7th largest African and African Union contributor of peacekeepers.

“However, there is a need to increase the number of women deployed. The information  from the UN Department of Peacekeeping shows that in 2019, a total of 2,304 peacekeepers were deployed, out of which only 184 were women. There is a need for collective efforts to address challenges that affect the participation of women in peacekeeping contingents,” said Mr Milisic.

There are benefits to women’s inclusion and leadership in peace operations

The UN Women Representative in Tanzania, Ms Hodan Addou detailed multiple benefits to women’s full and meaningful inclusion at all levels including in the leadership of UN peace operations. “Women’s participation is a force enabler. Women peacekeepers do build community trust and confidence through their access to communities, and this, in turn, improves the image of the mission, as well as accessibility and credibility with local populations. Importantly, this also allows for more gender-responsive interactions and engagements to occur that support the whole community,” Ms Addou said. She further explained the importance of militaries and police forces to fully enable women’s needs and leadership aspirations through a range of measures including policies and practices to drive the necessary institutional changes and to identify and address institutional unconscious biases in relation to recruitment, retention and deployment and promotion of women.

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula who is a Steering Committee member of the African Women Leaders’ Network and Chair of the Women, Peace and Security Pillar for the Tanzania Chapter said as widely recognized, the success of peace and security interventions is dependent on the meaningful participation of women. “This has been regrettably lacking. Women’s participation in peacekeeping which is of recent past opened a new frontier for a more secure world when the UN Security Council in its resolutions 1325 and 2242 stresses the importance of ensuring the full and equal participation of women in peace and security including peacekeeping operations, conflict resolution and mediation efforts for lasting peace,” she said, adding that what is currently critical is to cultivate the political will and mobilize international support in ensuring women’s meaningful participation at all levels. “The handing-over of the essential items to women peacekeepers by the UAE is not only empowering to these women but also a recognition of the important role and unique attributes they bring in the peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict resolution agenda as both survivors and key stakeholders. Let’s remember what the late President Nelson Mandela said on South Africa’s Women’s Day in 1996, that: As long as the nation refuses to acknowledge the equal role of more than half of itself, it is doomed to failure.”

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Tsitsi Matope
Communications Specialist
UN Women
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UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women