Women, Peace, and Security Course Held in Uruguayan Peacekeeping School
By Nastasia Barceló/Diálogo August 25, 2017The international Women, Peace, and Security course was held July 26th to 28th at the National Peace Operations Training Institute of Uruguay (ENOPU, per its Spanish acronym), with students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. All of the activities were based on the application of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on the same topic. Uruguay ranks 11th worldwide for female participation in UN peacekeeping contingents and is in first place at the regional level. In all, 122 nations participate in these missions. Women in peacekeeping missions “The first time in history that a woman from the Uruguayan Armed Forces participated in a peacekeeping mission was in 1987, on the Sinai Peninsula. This fact represented the start of a permanent practice, and Uruguayan women have also been in the Congo and Haiti,” Uruguayan Army Captain Carina de los Santos, who served as the course coordinator, said. “However, they still continue to be a minority within the contingents – from six to nine percent, approximately.” Twenty-eight students from the four South American nations attended the course. Members of the Uruguayan Army and Foreign Ministry were also in attendance. The closing ceremony was attended by Uruguayan General of the Army Marcelo Montaner, the director of the National Support System for Peacekeeping Operations, and Uruguayan Army Colonel Niver Pereira, the director of ENOPU. Seminar activities Capt. De los Santos said the seminar included various activities, such as a lecture by Angelina Vunge, author of the book “Angelina: Las huellas que dejó Angola” (Angelina: Impressions of Angola). “Angelina Vunge is originally from a rural town in Angola. She was a victim of abuse, including indecent acts and psychological abuse, and she suffered physical and sexual violence. Vunge currently resides in Uruguay, and in her book, she recounts how she came to the country by chance. As happens in most cases, her final destination could have been Portugal or Brazil, given their cultural and linguistic closeness, but a female Uruguayan member of the Blue Helmets reached out to her and thus changed the course of her life,” Capt. De los Santos explained. “The Women, Peace, and Security course was held for the fourth consecutive time in Uruguay, based on the premise that there needs to be more female participation in peacekeeping missions,” Capt. De los Santos added. The course is held yearly from July to September. The classes are taught in English and Spanish with simultaneous translation. Resolution 1325 Gender inclusion in peacekeeping missions and the sexual violence committed against people in the regions hosting the missions as well as the difference between sex and gender were among the notable topics addressed at the seminar. All of these issues were addressed according to the implementation of Resolution 1325, which the Security Council was adopted unanimously in 2000, after the Security Council acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls. The resolution is one of the first resolutions to legally enshrine the requirements the parties to a conflict have for women’s rights during repatriation and resettlement, and also during the process of post-conflict rehabilitation and adaptation. It also emphasizes the role that women play in conflict prevention and resolution as well as in peace building. Col. Pereira stressed the importance of women’s participation in these missions, noting their sensitivity in taking on and dealing with different risky situations that come up on the ground. “Women perform various roles in these missions, ranging from captains in charge to doctors, cooks, nurses, dentists, translators, vehicle drivers, and radio operators in message centers,” he explained. “Over the years, we’ve taken on our share of international training on gender issues, which is so important to the Uruguayan Armed Forces. For example, we’ve trained with the Naval Postgraduate School in the United States, as well as with students from the American Association of Training Centers for Peace Operations. That’s why it’s essential for us to hold this course,” Col. Pereira noted.