Gender Parity in Peace Operations: Opportunities for U.S. Engagement
On November 14–15, 2017, the government of Canada hosted the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference. Over 500 delegates from 70 countries, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO met in Vancouver to discuss improvements to UN peacekeeping operations and secure new pledges from UN member states.
At the conference, Canada announced the launch of the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations. Named after the trailblazing feminist Elsie MacGill, this initiative will join Canada and the UN in partnership with other interested member states to address the obstacles to placing more uniformed women in peace operations. While member states have committed to a target contribution of 15 percent female personnel, currently uniformed female peacekeepers make up only around 3 percent of troops deployed. Often, this dearth of women peacekeepers reflects the lack of women in the national militaries of troop contributing countries. The Elise Initiative represents a practical, innovative measure by an active member of the peacekeeping community to address this fundamental deficit and advance gender inclusion.