The eight United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Female Officers Training Course recently came to a close in Nairobi. The course, with significant support from Finland, brought 40 female officers from 31 different countries to Kenya for the second time. The two-week course’s aim is to develop the professional capacity of female officers and to implement the UN’s aim of increasing the number of female peacekeepers. 'The course also helps to raise awareness of the additional value women bring to peacekeeping missions and strengthens the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security"', said Finnish Ambassador Tarja Fernández at the course’s opening ceremony on 6.11.2017.
The course leader, Major General (ret) Patrick Cammaert thanked Finland for its political support in advancing the 1325 agenda. Cammaert emphasized the importance of advocacy for the involvement of more women in peacekeeping roles. Attitudes in defence ministries can change slowly, and women are not necessarily viewed as potential peacekeepers.
”Being an instructor on the UN Female Military Officers Course is one of the highlights of our year. The course has raised the readiness of the participating women to take part in peacekeeping operations, and they are keen to deploy and to make a difference in mission areas. We are grateful for Finland’s continued support that enables further capacity building among female military officers” said Dr Lotte Vermeij, Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Defence University College and former Women Protection Advisor at MONUSCO.
Johanna Törmä, who works in the Finnish Defence Force Centre for Military Medicine, said “The best thing about the course has been the dedicated and professional instructors. The course includes women from many different countries and cultures, and many are participating in training aimed at women and the impact of conflict on women for the first time”.
Törmä, who has already deployed in three previous peacekeeping missions, participated in the course as part of her preparation for the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) peacekeeping operation in the Middle-East.
Women and girls are often victims in conflict situations, and it can be easier for them to approach female peacekeepers. Despite this, only 3 per cent of UN mission military personnel are women. The UN Women Female Officers Training Course aims to remedy this, and to increase the operational capacity of female peacekeepers in civilian protection, familiarity with international norms and law, as well as training in responding to sexual and gender based violence.
Finland supports crisis management training diversely. The support for UN Women strengthens Finland's contribution to the development of UN peacekeeping, and contributes to sustainable peacekeeping. Civilian protection is one of Finland's priorities in the development of UN peacekeeping. Finland is also one of the states that signed the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians in 2016.