With today's challenges, UN peacekeepers continue to play an essential role in furthering global peace and stability. Supporting these efforts is the United States' Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). GPOI has worked tirelessly to build the peacekeeping capacity of countries currently contributing or preparing to contribute forces to global peacekeeping operations.
Recently, in response to a growing demand for female involvement at all levels of international peacekeeping, Peru developed an all-female peacekeeping unit with members from all of its military branches, trained them in international peacekeeping, and deployed elements of the unit to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in January 2011. GPOI facilitated the unit's participation in the UN mission by supporting improvements to Peru's training facilities and provided training assistance and deployment equipment. GPOI's support of the Peruvian military's effort to put female troops in important peacekeeping roles also highlights the Obama administration's efforts to promote the role of women in peace and security internationally.
On December 19, 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the implementation of the first ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. The National Action Plan identifies actions that the U.S. Government will take to accelerate, institutionalize, and better coordinate efforts to advance women's inclusion in nation stabilization. It also hopes to expand training on how to protect women from sexual and gender-based violence and to help ensure equal access to relief and recovery. On the same day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security in a speech at Georgetown University. In her speech, Secretary Clinton acknowledged that in the future, women need to be given a more active role in peacebuilding. As she stated, “women are too often excluded from both the negotiations that make peace and the institutions that maintain it... That is an unacceptable waste of talent and of opportunity for the rest of us as well.”
GPOI contributes to the development of the National Action Plan through training activities, which have facilitated the training of more than 3,200 female peacekeepers worldwide. GPOI seeks to increase the participation of women in peacekeeping training events in order to prevent conflict and build peace in areas affected by war, violence, and insecurity. Additionally, in its 63 partner countries and in most of the 43 GPOI-supported peace support operations training centers around the world, GPOI seeks to strengthen gender equality and prevent violence by supporting instruction to peacekeepers on prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation, and abuse.
GPOI will continue to increase the participation of female partner nation personnel in GPOI-funded training to empower women to prevent conflict and build peace in areas affected by war, violence, and insecurity. As Secretary Clinton has explained: “For years, many of us have tried to show the world that women are not just victims of war; they are agents of peace.”