The United Nations has about 74,000 peacekeepers in uniform stationed in a dozen conflict zones around the world. It’s easy to spot them in their signature light blue helmets. It’s harder to find a woman among them.
There are military experts, police and infantry units who come from 121 countries to help maintain peace.
Just 8% of peacekeepers are women.
This is a significant increase from 15 years ago – when the number of peacekeepers was about the same as today but women made up only about 2% of the ranks. For 20 years, the U.N. has been trying to improve this statistic.
But the U.N.‘s long-term goal of having as many female peacekeepers as men may well be unachievable.
As a U.S. diplomat and an international affairs scholar, I have been involved in peacekeeping in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. While dramatically increasing the number of female peacekeepers has clear benefits, including improved community relationships, the evolution of peacekeeping makes gender parity impossible.