Today we honour the one million peacekeepers who have served under the UN flag.
International Day of UN Peacekeepers this year commemorates women in peacekeeping – marking the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
The shared goal of lasting peace and security cannot be achieved without the full participation of women in peace processes, peace agreements and peace operations.
According to the International Peace Institute, when women are involved in peace processes in a meaningful way, any resulting agreement is 35 per cent more likely to last at least 15 years.
Australia’s full support for the UN’s WPS effort is demonstrated through our ongoing commitment to UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy targets; the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, and to Gender Adviser training and deployment.
UN Peacekeeping operations now include women in the most important ways, including the first female Force Commander MAJGEN Kristin Lund (Norway) in 2014. I am proud of Australia’s female leaders serving today, including MAJGEN Cheryl Pearce, only the second female UN Force Commander, Lisa Filipetto, Head of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia, Melva Crouch, Director of Mission Support at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and Ingrid Hayden, Deputy Special Representative (Political) for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Women being part of peacekeeping and peacebuilding became foundational lines of effort in Afghanistan and Iraq and even closer to home, recently in Bougainville. Last year, I had the honour of opening the Courage of Peace Exhibition at the Australian War Memorial, which illustrates Australia’s commitment to the task of bringing peace and saving lives, even at the risk of our own, and tells the story of Australian women who are part of that story.
At a time in which COVID-19 has the potential to deepen fragility and conflict, Australia supports women and girls as agents of change in shaping our global pandemic response. I commend the important contribution of UN peacekeeping missions to local and national COVID-19 efforts around the world.
Australia has supported UN peacekeeping since 1947, when Australian peacekeepers observed the first UN ceasefire order in the then Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Since then, Australia has participated in 21 UN peacekeeping missions – a significant contribution to international peace and security and the rules-based international order.