Bachelet Asks Uruguay for More Participation by Women in UN Peace Missions

By Dialogo
November 15, 2011

The executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, asked Uruguay to make an effort to increase the proportion of women on peace missions, following a meeting in Montevideo with President José Mujica.

“We want there to continue to be many more ‘blue helmets,’ but also for there to be more female ‘blue helmets,’” Bachelet, who was visiting Uruguay in connection with a UN conference that analyzed how to improve multilateral development cooperation, said at a press conference.

The former Chilean president (2006-2010) explained that “the experience that we’ve had in many countries in conflict is that the presence of women enables women, on the one hand, to dare to bring forward their problems, serious assaults on human rights and literal sexual assaults as well.”

The presence of women on peace missions “has given strong impetus, in those countries that are in transition and developing their institutional structure, to the idea that women can be part of those Armed Forces or those police forces,” she indicated, adding that the UN is promoting this proposal in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Uruguay – the tenth-ranking country in the number of troops it contributes to UN peace forces – is the nation that contributes the most personnel to the contingent in Haiti, around 900 Soldiers, in comparison to its total population, around 3.4 million inhabitants.

On another topic, the director of UN Women defended the use of quotas to increase women’s participation in politics, “because it’s more democratic and more representative,” recalling that for women, “there are thousands of obstacles” to obtaining political office.

“It’s a good thing, because democracy is not only electing people, but also having the possibility of being elected,” she maintained, emphasizing that women represent half the population.

It's true that women have won rights in many areas but their main goal lies in being mothers, homemaking, even though my way of thinking is conservative there is little or nothing to be done by men to change or stop female progress in different areas, I accept that they have the right through justice and through equal opportunities but I don't like it, but I accept it. I am unable to understand the arguments, operational or administrative, if there are any, for increasing the number of women. I want to believe a lady whose function is of such international importance has other requests, which are also important.