Women play key role in COVID-19 prevention in UN peacekeeping operations

Women play key role in COVID-19 prevention in UN peacekeeping operations

27. 11. 2020

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will study policies to attract more female soldiers to join United Nations’ peacekeeping missions and ensure their participation in peacekeeping, Lieutenant General Hoàng Xuân Chiến, Vice Minister of National Defence, said on Thursday.

He made the statement at a conference on the role of women and prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic in peacekeeping operations, which was organised by the Ministry of National Defence and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday.

Chiến said Việt Nam joined global peacekeeping operations in 2014.

In 2017, Việt Nam sent the first female staff officer to join the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Currently, 10 female officers are on duty in the Field Hospital in South Sudan, accounting for nearly 17 per cent of the total 63 health staff of the hospital.

“This rate is higher than the set target of the United Nations,” he said.

“Vietnamese female soldiers are highly appreciated by the United Nations for their professionalism, ability to fulfil missions and becoming a highlight in many UN activities in field missions,” he added.

Chiến said it would be difficult to maintain female soldiers’ sustainable participation in the United Nations peacekeeping force and to meet the increasing demands of the United Nations, especially amid the pandemic.

The pandemic has made women’s military life even more challenging, but these would be the problems of every country sending troops to peacekeeping activities.

Major Đỗ Thị Hằng Nga, the first female staff officer to join the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, said the priority she has been given during her time in the country was that she didn’t have to take regular patrols like her male colleagues.

Nga worked for between 14 and 16 hours per day with a huge amount of work.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, things became more complex. Nga and other female soldiers had to learn to take care of necessities in their daily life.

“Water supply was sometimes interrupted, so we needed to store clean water for use. We struggled to carry tanks of 20-30 litres back home,” she said.

Women also took initiative in disease prevention efforts. In the Central African Republic, Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Thị Liên sewed more than 500 facemasks and gave them, for free, to colleagues in the mission and the people of Bangui City.

At the conference, Lieutenant General Chiến said the ministry would consider increasing the participation of female soldiers in peacekeeping activities, especially those applying to work in higher positions at the UN headquarters and the mission headquarters.

The ministry has directed agencies to ensure preferential treatment policies to help women feel secure to participate in peacekeeping and improve the quality of work.

Over the past five years, both the overall number and the proportion of women in peacekeepers in Southeast Asia have increased. Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia have the highest number of women in the UN peacekeeping force in the region.

In her closing remark, UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen commended Việt Nam for its offering of the Regional Hub to help strengthen the capacity of women in the context of ASEAN and others. UNDP stand committed to support the Government of Việt Nam in that effort. — VNS