Progress Toward Gender Balance in Peacekeeping in 'Peril,' Committee Told

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
October 28, 2020

The United Nations' goal of getting more women to serve in peacekeeping missions in conflict zones is at risk now because of the global pandemic and an erratic approach to gender equality taken by countries before the pandemic hit, a Canadian diplomat said this week.

Testifying before the House of Commons committee on national defence, Jacqueline O'Neill — who holds the title of ambassador for women, peace and security — acknowledged that the progress made to date on gender balance in peacekeeping has been slow.

"What's more, much of the progress we have achieved is in peril," O'Neill told the multi-party committee.

"There are increased attacks against the defenders of the rights of women and LGBTQ, and the pandemics — particularly authoritarian responses to COVID 19 — represent existential threats for many women peacebuilders and local organizations working at the community level."

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