New Delhi: Two Indian women have been featured in a special video campaign of the United Nations which seeks to profile women in peacekeeping missions and special political missions.
Called ‘Peace is My Mission’, the campaign was launched on 1 October in the run up to the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on 31 October, and features Indian police officer Ragini Kumari and Human Rights professional Huma Khan among nine other women from various countries.
According to a UN statement, the campaign was launched in support of the secretary-general’s System-wide Gender Parity and Uniformed Gender Parity Strategies, and is a collaboration between the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC), Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA).
A Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028 document by DPO, states that the objective is to ensure that the uniformed component of United Nations peacekeeping is diverse and inclusive of women, reflecting the communities served by the UN.
The UN statement mentions the campaign aims to promote meaningful participation and work of women — both uniformed and civilian personnel — in the UN peacekeeping and special political missions, recognise and raise awareness of their contributions, and attract more women to work in UN missions around the globe.
It added that the nine short profile videos would convey the women’s sense of pride, while realistically presenting daily life serving in a UN mission.
‘More women should work in conflict zones’
Ragini Kumari was the assessment team leader of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Talking to ThePrint, she said her tenure ended in June 2020 and found the experience rewarding.
She added that it gave her a closer and a real perspective towards humanity when she was working with the victims.
“I feel more and more women should come to work for women in conflict zones,” she said.
In the UN video, she said it was a rewarding experience for her to provide security to civilians.
“It was my dream to join the UN peacekeeping mission, and it’s like a dream come true for me,” she said.
After a stint with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Kumari joined the United Nations Police (UNPOL) to serve with the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in February 2019.
She said her husband was also in the mission, and he inspired her, she said.
Her job involved collecting information on human rights violations and other crimes committed within the peacekeeping mission’s two civilian protection sites in capital city Juba, where close to 30,000 individuals internally displaced by inter-ethnic conflict in 2013 and 2016 reside.
She said that in a post-conflict country or in a post-conflict zone, the victims of these crimes are mainly women and children and a victim can be more comfortable, more vocal with a female official.
“The feedback I got .. it was a really immense experience for the people who need your support, for whom you can bring hope. You are the source of the hope (sic),” she said.
She added that wearing the blue beret gives her strength and satisfaction.
A mother of two, Kumari is also a yoga practitioner and a music aficionado.
‘Women’s rights my passion’
Huma Khan, senior women protection officer at the UN mission, started her tenure in South Sudan in February 2018 and has been stationed there for close to two years. Khan is an experienced human rights professional.
In her video, Khan said she had worked with varied groups — from armed groups to extremists, governments and civil society.
“Before working for the UN, I worked for civil society organisations as a lawyer. Women’s rights is my passion and my exposure to conflict, starting from my home country, has made me very curious about what happens to women, particularly in conflict,” she said in the video.
Prior to South Sudan, Khan worked as an expert for UN Women Ukraine to develop a national strategy for addressing conflict-related sexual violence for the government of Ukraine, as an advisor with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka, a team leader for Gender & Women’s Rights in Afghanistan and also worked with survivors of sexual violence during the Gujarat riots.