Greater civil military cooperation needed on gender sensitization of security forces

phpThumb_generated_tfsateIslamabad, October 22: Pakistan needs to sensitize its security forces for responding to gender issues during conflicts and crises both at home and abroad. Despite being the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping force, Pakistan is one of the lowest contributors when it comes to female peacekeepers. There are only 22 women peacekeepers among a force of over 10,000.

The role of women in conflict resolution and their special needs during conflicts was discussed at a stakeholder consultation organized by the Jinnah Institute on Gender and Peacekeeping on the 22nd of October 2010 at the Marriot Hotel, Islamabad. Given the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan, the Jinnah Institute believes it is important for not only peacekeepers but all security personnel to undergo gender sensitization training.


Representatives of civil society, the government, military and colleagues from Argentina discussed the successful experience of Argentina in sensitizing its peacekeepers to gender issues and the challenges and progress made in Pakistan on sensitizing security forces.

Sherry Rehman, President Jinnah Institute highlighted the need for sensitizing peacekeepers and security forces to gender Issues. Alejandro Salesi, General Director for Peacekeeping Cooperation, Ministry of Defense Government of Argentina presented the Argentinean Government’s experience with developing and implementing a gender policy. Participants noted that Pakistan’s ministry of Defense does not have a gender policy and the ministry should work to develop one.

Alice Shackleford, UNIFEM representative informed speakers that the UN has made a commitment to sensitizing its peacekeepers on gender issues enabling them to respond more sensitively and innovatively to women’s issues in crises and conflicts. A representative from the Ministry of Women’s Development confirmed that Pakistan being one of the largest contributors to the UN peacekeeping force, is also committed to sensitizing its peacekeepers.

Ana Talamoni, Head of Lessons Learned Division/Doctrine Department, Argentine Joint Peacekeeping Training Centre informed participants of the methods adopted by the elaborated on Civil Society efforts for this cause. A representative from ISPR explained the stringent policies and procedures in place in the military for the selection and training of Peacekeepers.

Sherry Rehman, President of the Jinnah Institute mentioned the need for creating greater cooperation between civil and military organizations so that security personnel can be better trained in responding to women’s needs. She also stressed the need for including women in the peacekeeping and peace negotiating process. She called for greater democratization of conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She also called for an inter agency effort to coordinate gender sensitization activities and recommended that an Inter-ministerial task force should be set up to take into account the public’s demands by engaging more actively with civil society. It was also suggested that ISPR should actively engage with NGOs in the field and civil society should be facilitated to maintain a more regular interaction with the military. Our Ministry of Defense should coordinate with Argentina to learn from them.

Nighat Rizvi noted that gender sensitization training should not happen only when soldiers have been earmarked for overseas deployment but should be built into the curriculum of the military academies at all levels.
Farzana Bari and Rukhsana Rashid stressed on the need for having and accountability mechanism for perpetrators of gender based crimes. They also stressed the need for building a process to create greater gender equity in society instead of relying on episodic trainings and events.

This event was organized by the Jinnah Institute; a non-profit Public Policy Organization based in Pakistan. It functions as a think tank, advocacy group and public outreach organization independent of Government. JI seeks to promote knowledge-based policy making for strengthening democratic institutions and public stakes in human and national security discourse. It remains committed to investing in policies that promote fundamental rights, tolerance and pluralism.