March 10, 2014 - It was an air of festivity as UNDOF women peacekeepers gathered to mark the widely celebrated International Women’s Day. It was also an opportunity for the women of this multi cultured mission to showcase a portion of their culture through their traditional attire and dances. The women further made a statement of their commitment to supporting advocacy for women's advancement everywhere in every way by marching to the beats of drums through Camp Zioanni. The Force Commander (FC) and Head of Mission (HoM), Lt Gen Iqbal S. Singha was the guest of honor and thanked all the women peacekeepers for their contribution to the running of the mission.
In his speech, Lt Gen Singha mentioned that the role of women in society was constantly questioned and for centuries women have struggled to find their place in a world that is predominantly male oriented. He said that now the twenty first century brought on its trail a new hope for women. “Dramatic changes have happened in the role, ambitions and attitude of women in the last few decades of twentieth century. Women have departed from their traditional role of mothers and wives alone. From a non-entity they have become women of substance and have been able to establish an individuality of their own in the modern society,” he said.
Being a supporter of women’s rights himself, the FC said that ever since he took over as HoM, his endeavor has been to enhance the number of women peacekeepers in the mission. “It is no mean achievement to say that four out of six posts that I interviewed last year have gone to women. Unfortunately, we have been loosing women to other missions at a faster rate. I have observed that the mobility factor is more prevalent amongst ladies due to various factors,” he added.
Lt Gen Singha continued to highlight how vital and demanding the role of women in UN missions can be at times especially in troubled areas where most of the atrocities are suffered by women and children. “It is women peacekeepers who can best communicate with them and realize and alleviate actual problems. The atrocities like rape and molestations, which are otherwise hidden, can hence be reported to them. Regardless of their cultural, social and economic backgrounds, women in the world do share the same language of femininity. Women peacekeepers in this way give a humane touch to any peacekeeping mission, as well as inspire not only their colleagues or comrades, but all the women out there who want to have equal rights and opportunities. There are instances of women peacekeepers organizing women groups who in turn forced their men folks to give up arms. Yes, women are more effective in carrying our DDR,” he said.
Lt Gen Singha concluded his inspiring speech by highlighting the UN value of honoring womanhood and femininity, and listen to the wisdom that is held in this other, vital half of humanity. “Nature has made women stronger than men. That is why they can undertake so much pain smilingly while taking the human race forward. My message for you ladies this afternoon is simple, continue to aspire and work for equal opportunities while reaffirming commitment of moving forward,” he said.
FCand HoM, LtGen I.S. Singha addresses women of UNDOF
Audience listen in to FC and HoM, Lt Gen I. S. Singha
Performance by FijiBatt
Female peacekeepers enjoying the spread
UNDOF Women march through Camp Zioanni