The Peacekeeping Operations Internship for Women spreads knowledge on peacekeeping operations and on promoting the increase of female contingent volunteers in missions.
Between September 25 and October 4, 2019, the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) conducted the third edition of the Peacekeeping Operations Internship for Women. The course brought together 35 students, service members, and civilians at the Naval Peacekeeping Operations School (EsOpPazNav, in Portuguese), in Rio de Janeiro. The school trains MB service members who participate in peacekeeping operations of the United Nations (U.N.), or missions executed in fulfillment of MB’s international commitments.
According to MB Lieutenant Commander Márcia Andrade Braga, in charge of EsOpPazNav, “in addition to lectures from female service members about their participation in U.N. missions, students also take part in practical training on the main activities service members deployed in the field carry out during missions.”
The structure of the U.N. and peacekeeping missions; values and principles adopted by the U.N.; protection of civilians and children; the Women, Peace, and Security agenda; arms reconnaissance; and healthcare in areas of conflict were among the topics addressed during the internship.
EsOpPazNav promotes the Peacekeeping Operations Internship for Women twice a year, once every semester. The first edition took place in December 2018. “Training the female contingent is crucial to increasing the number of female service members in U.N. peacekeeping missions,” Lt. Cmdr. Andrade said.
According to the U.N., female presence in missions averages 4 percent, including military observers, personnel, and contingents. “The U.N.’s goal is 15 percent, which they intend to extend to 30 percent,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrade. “It’s a struggle, but little by little the countries that send troops are beginning to prepare.”
The MB officer, who was the first Brazilian to receive the U.N. Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for her work as military gender advisor in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA, in French), in 2018 and 2019, stressed the importance of female presence in conflict areas, especially during interactions with the community.
“Women help to establish a link of trust with the force deployed in the field,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrade. “They also facilitate the understanding of special needs of women and girls, helping with their reports of sexual violence related to the conflict, a common violation in several U.N. missions.”
“During my mission in MINUSCA, I tried to stay as close to the local community as possible, to understand the work of different groups and how the conflict affected each one of them”, concluded Lt. Cmdr. Andrade.