United Nations


Commission on the Status of Women

21 February 1995

Thirty-ninth session
New York, 15 March-4 April 1995
Item 6 of the provisional agenda*

     *  E/CN.6/1995/1.

                         PRIORITY THEMES


  Participation of women in political life and decision-making

                 Report of the Secretary-General


       In 1990, the Commission on the Status of Women decided to include
"Women in international decision-making" on the agenda of its thirty-ninth
session in 1995 as the priority theme under the rubric "Peace".  The present
report, the fifth in the framework of considerations by the Commission of the
issue of the participation of women in political life and decision-making,
focuses on the participation of women in peace and security areas at the
national and international levels, including the United Nations peace and
security operations.  It provides an analysis of new data on the participation
of women in parliaments and Governments world wide, with special emphasis on
peace and security areas, and in the United Nations system, including peace
and securityoperations.  It states the hypothesis that women's participation
brought new elements, values and perspectives to those operations.  It also
presents the argument that if women were involved on an equal basis in
political life, including decision-making, at the national and international
levels, they would make a qualitative difference, in terms of content and
style, to the benefit of society and the achievement of the goal of peace.


                                                            Paragraphs  Page

INTRODUCTION ........................................          1 - 3      3

        DECISION-MAKING:  AN ANALYSIS ...............          4 - 32     3

        A.    Women in national decision-making .....          7 - 11     4

        B.    Women in the United Nations ...........         12 - 16     6

        C.    Women in multilateral diplomacy .......         17 - 19     9

        D.    Women in national military and police forces    20 - 24     9

        E.    Women in peace-keeping ................         25 - 32    10

        WOMEN IN PEACE AND SECURITY .................         33 - 41    14

        PARTICIPATION IN PEACE AND SECURITY AREAS ...         42 - 45    17


1.     In 1990, the Commission on the Status of Women decided to include
"Women in international decision-making" on the agenda of its thirty-ninth
session in 1995 as the priority theme under the rubric "Peace".

2.     The present report, the fifth in a series of reports to the Commission
on the issue of the participation of women in political life and
decision-making, focuses on the participation of women in peace and security
areas at the national and international levels, including the United Nations
peace and security operations.

3.     In order to assist with the preparation of the report, an expert group
meeting on gender and the Agenda for Peace was convened by the Division for
the Advancement of Women, Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development, in New York, from 5 to 9 December 1994.  The meeting focused on
the participation of women in the implementation of the agenda for peace and
worked out recommendations aimed at increased participation of women in the
United Nations peace and security operations and incorporation of women's
perspectives in all peace-related activities.  Particularly relevant
recommendations of the meeting are included in the report.

                        DECISION-MAKING:  AN ANALYSIS

4.     One of the most significant and prevailing gaps between de jure and
de facto equality is the low participation of women in politics and
decision-making.  Despite the long existence of international norms and
electoral rights at the national level which allow women to vote and to hold
office on equal terms with men, the proportion of women in decision-making
bodies remains low.

5.     The lack of equal participation of women in political decision-making,
deprives women of the enjoyment of important rights and responsibilities as
citizens.  Women's interests and perspectives cannot be represented and
protected at the policy-making levels.  Women cannot influence key decisions,
whether in terms of national budgets, major reforms or socio-economic models
to be chosen, all of which have consequences for the society as a whole and
for future generations.  The decision-making process is deprived of women's
skills and distinctive perspectives.

6.     Existing evidence indicates that in the areas of peace, security,
conflict resolution and international peace negotiations, the participation of
women in general and in decision-making in particular is lower than in any
other area. These areas, however, are critical for the basic choices which
humankind makes concerning war or peace; public policy and spending on
military or civilian purposes; the proliferation of weapons through the arms
trade; or disarmament and reconversion of military resources for peaceful

                    A.  Women in national decision-making

7.     In  history there have been only 23 female heads of State or
government, democratically elected (table 1).  All of them held office after
the Second World War and most, in the past 10 years.

            Table 1.  Percentage of women in government decision-making
                      positions, all sectors, by level and region, 1987
                      and 1994

                                   1987                       1994
                          -----------------------   -------------------------
                                    Sub-                      Sub-
                          Minis-   minis-           Minis-   minis-
     Region               terial   terial   Total   terial   terial   Total
Africa                      2.9     5.0       4.0     5.4      6.8      6.3
Latin America and
 the Caribbean              3.1     8.2       7.3     7.5     11.4     10.4 
Western Europe
 and others                 7.1     7.8       9.6    15.2     12.3     13.0
Asia and the Pacific        1.8     3.1       3.0     2.9      2.6      2.9
Eastern Europe              3.0     3.9       3.5     2.6      6.1      5.0
World                       3.4     5.7       5.4     6.2      7.1      6.8

     Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, from World Government
Directory, 1994 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994)

8.     According to the latest data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union
(IPU) at 30 June 1994, the average percentage of women in parliaments was
10.51 per cent, with 10.8 per cent on average in a single, or lower, chamber
and 8.6 per cent in other chambers.  In only 21 out of 178 national
parliaments did women constitute 20-39.4 per cent of the membership.  Only in
Norway and Finland did the proportion rise above 39 per cent.  There is no
information on the distribution of women among the parliamentary committees
and commissions, but there is an indication that, as in Governments, most of
women concentrate in the committees dealing with social issues, education,
labour or health, while a lower proportion of women is found in the committees
concerned with foreign affairs, military and the interior.

9.     Government decision-making takes place ultimately at the ministerial
level, where decisions are formally taken by the members of cabinet, and at
sub-ministerial levels, where most of decisions are prepared and where key
decision makers are located.  The proportion of women in these positions in
1987 and 1994 is shown in table 1.  In 1994, 62 countries had no women
ministers at the cabinet level.

10.    In political ministries, such as foreign affairs, interior, and
defence, women constituted an even lower proportion, as can be seen in
table 2.

            Table 2.  Percentage of women in decision-making positions
                      in political ministries, a/ by level and region,
                      1987 and 1994

                                   1987                       1994
                          -----------------------   -------------------------
                                    Sub-                      Sub-
                          Minis-   minis-           Minis-   minis-
     Region               terial   terial   Total   terial   terial   Total
Africa                      1.3     4.5       2.0     3.6      4.1      4.0
Latin America and
 the Caribbean              3.4     8.6       5.0     3.4     12.1     10.4 
Western Europe
 and others                 4.1     9.2       6.1     7.5     10.6      9.5
Asia and the Pacific        0.2     1.4       1.0     2.8      2.5      3.0
Eastern Europe              2.9     2.1       2.4     0.0      0.5      0.5
World                       2.0     5.2       3.1     3.6      5.5      5.3
Nordic                     11.7    10.1      11.8    27.3     12.6     19.2
Caribbean                  10.0    23.6      11.5     3.3     23.4     18.9
East and South-East Asia    0.0     1.4       0.9     0.0      0.4      0.3

       Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, from World Government
Directory, 1994 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994).

       a/     Foreign affairs, defence, interior.

11.    There are two paths to power and political decision-making:  through
the political process itself and through the civil service.  The first leads
mainly to participation in parliaments and other elected bodies, in positions
as elected head of State or Government, and to nominations to the position of
cabinet minister or other top political function.  The second path leads to
high positions within the administration, up to sub-ministerial levels.  The
positions are, in principle, non-political, although they are, in practice,
often politically influenced, especially at the top.  The professional career
path appears to be most typical at the decision-making level in political
areas.  Most of high-level functionaries in foreign affairs, defence and the
interior arrive at these positions through long-term career development, in
the foreign service, military, security or the police.  They also constitute
the main recruitment pool from which international peace negotiators, peace
keepers, security and disarmament experts are drawn.  Since women are a
minority in the foreign services of most countries and are highly
underrepresented in the areas of security, the military and the police, they
are practically excluded from decision-making or prevented from reaching what
has been termed a "critical mass" where one sex is no longer in a significant
minority and can function naturally in these areas, both at the national and
international levels.

                 B.  Women in the United Nations

12.    The United Nations is similar in structure to national mechanisms of
power and decision-making.  It consists of parliament-like organs to which
representatives are designated by their respective countries; and it has an
international civil service, which has some of the characteristics of a
national bureaucracy, including its organizing principles related to
recruitment, promotion and career development.

13.    Throughout its 50 years of history, the vast majority of the delegates
selected by their national Governments to represent their countries at United
Nations bodies have been male.  Very few women have been designated to
participate, especially at the decision-making level and in political areas. 
For example, of the 49 presidents of the General Assembly, elected since 1945,
only two were women, Ms. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India in 1953 (eighth
session) and Ms. Angie Brooks of Liberia in 1969 (twenty-fourth session). 
Since its establishment in 1945, the International Court of Justice has had no
women judges.  Among the numerous United Nations conferences held since 1945
and headed by appointed senior officials of the United Nations, only six were
headed by women, and four of those were world conferences on women.

14.    Of the 89 executive heads of various organizations of the United
Nations system elected or appointed by member States, there have been no
women.  However, four women have been confirmed by the General Assembly as
heads of major United Nations programmes, including the High Commissioner for
Refugees (Ms. Sadako Ogata, of Japan), the Executive Director of the UN/FAO
World Food Programme (Ms. Catherine Bertini, of the United States), the
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Ms. Elizabeth
Dowdswell, of Canada) and the Executive Director of the United Nations
Population Fund (Dr. Nafis Sadik, of Pakistan).

15.    In the United Nations Secretariat, women have always constituted a
minority of the professional staff.  Following the conclusions of the 1985
World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations
Decade for Women, the General Assembly set a target of 30 per cent women among
the professional staff in the Secretariat by 1990.  This target was met in
1991 and subsequently revised to 35 per cent by the year 1995, with a target
of 25 per cent set for the upper, middle, and senior management levels.  The
percentage of women professionals in the United Nations Secretariat by level,
in the period 1949-1993 is reflected in table 3 below.

16.    The representation of women professionals in the United Nations
Secretariat, in selected agencies and in political areas are presented in
tables 3, 4 and 5 below.

         Table 3.  Percentage of women professionals in the United Nations
                   Secretariat, by level, 1949-1993

               D-2 and   D-1 and    P-4 and    P-2 and           All
   Year         above      P-5        P-3        P-1        Professionals
   1949          2.00      3.36      19.43      42.88           23.42
   1955          0.00      2.15      13.26      30.19           16.76
   1960          1.82      3.04      17.93      31.71           18.73
   1965          0.00      4.26      20.10      24.65           17.84
   1970          5.10      5.90      18.79      36.12           20.18
   1975          2.88      7.28      19.38      33.83           19.40
   1980          4.72      8.49      24.47      39.08           22.40
   1985          4.73     10.60      28.60      40.33           25.36
   1990          8.13     15.64      33.79      43.78           29.98
   1993         12.75     18.69      33.87      47.46           31.19
     Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, compiled from reports of
the Secretary-General.

       Table 4.  Gender distribution of professional staff in the political
                 areas of the United Nations Secretariat, by department or
                 office and by grade, as of 30 June 1994

                                                  Percent-           Percent-
                          USG     ASG     D-2      age of    Total    age of 
                        ------- ------- -------   women at ---------  women
                                                  D-2 and            profes-
  Department/Office      F   M   F   M   F   M     above    F    M   sionals
Dept. of Peace-          
 Operations              0   1   0   2   1   3      14.3   11   22     33.3 
Dept. of
 Affairs                 0   1   1   0   1   9      16.7   54   82     39.7 
Executive Office
 of the
 Secretary-General       0   1   0   3   1   1      16.7   11   16     40.7 
Dept. of Humanitarian
 Affairs                 0   1   0   0   0   3       0.0    8   30     21.1  

     Source:  "Human resources management:  composition of the Secretariat"

     Note:  F  Female
            M  Male

               Table 5.  Percentage of staff members in selected United
                         Nations agencies and of total staff who are women at
                         the professional level or at the D-2 level or above,

                      Professional staff          Staff at D-2 level or above
              ---------------------------------- -----------------------------
 Agency        1975   1979   1986   1992   1994    1975   1979   1986   1992
 UNHCR         14.1   15.0   23.4   32.0   32.8     0.0    0.0    0.0    7.7
 UNRWA          7.4    2.7    ..    15.6   13.3     0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0
 IAEA          11.9   11.1   11.6   14.2   14.7     0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0 
 staff         15.8   17.2   22.8   24.9   28.0     1.6    2.6    3.6    6.7

     Source:  "Personnel questions:  composition of the Secretariat" from
1976, 1980, 1987 and 1993 (A/31/154, A/35/528, A/42/636, A/48/559); 1994 data
from "Human resources management" (A/49/527).

                  C.  Women in multilateral diplomacy

17.    The data on the participation of women in diplomacy are fragmented and
incomplete; no world-wide survey has been carried out in order to assess the
current situation.  Only a few countries reported on women in diplomacy in the
1994 review and appraisal of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies.  However,
they emphasized that women's participation in the foreign service and
diplomacy did not match their substantive contributions to peace at the
non-governmental level.  The number of women ambassadors remained very low. 
Only a few women diplomats have been involved in peace or disarmament
negotiations world wide.  Even in the Scandinavian countries, where the status
of women is more advanced, the participation of women in diplomacy remains
relatively low, especially in political areas.

18.    Women continue to be largely absent in the highest ranks of the
permanent missions to the United Nations in New York.  In 1989, in the
permanent missions  to the United Nations women constituted 20 per cent of the
diplomatic personnel, and 57 delegations had no women on their diplomatic
staff.  As of January 1994, only seven missions out of 187 were headed by
women.  Among the 240 delegates holding ambassadorial rank, only 11 were
women.  Of the total diplomatic staff of missions, women represented only 22
per cent.  In the permanent missions of 67 member States, there were no women
at all.  The figures reflect negligible increase since 1949, when women at the
diplomatic level in permanent missions to the United Nations constituted 16
per cent of the total.

19.    Women continue to be underrepresented in such areas of multilateral
diplomacy as disarmament, security, peace negotiations and conflict
resolution, which are crucial for the preservation of peace and stability as
compared to other fields of multilateral diplomacy - i.e., social or cultural

            D.  Women in national military and police forces

20.    The participation of women in military service has been considered a
controversial issue.  Many men and women think that it is a concern primarily
of men.

21.    By being outside of the military, women cannot be involved in decision-
making regarding the use of military forces, changes in military institutions
and overall control over its performance.  Any military normally accounts for
a large proportion of public expenditure, constitutes an important employer
and provides career opportunities and training which can lead to non-military

22.    The accessibility of the military service to women has been rarely
reported by the States parties to CEDAW.  Some countries - for example,
Australia, Austria, Germany, New Zealand and Thailand - have certain
reservations to various provisions of the Convention, including articles 7 and
8 which refer to the participation of women in the military service.  The
largest amount of data exists on the members States of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western European Union.  Half of these
countries have legislation and policies excluding women from combat, although
women's service in other areas of the military has been encouraged with equal
pay, training and discipline as those of men.  Most rules permit pregnant
women to remain in the service and provide parental leave, but many limit the
rank that women can achieve.

23.    In only a few countries are combat positions fully open to women.  They
include Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Venezuela and
Zambia.  But even in those armies, a majority of women are not in combat
units.  In most countries, women in the military remain continue to be
represented mainly in the medical, administrative, legal, communication,
logistics, transportation and teaching branches.  According to the national
reports for the second review and appraisal of the Nairobi Strategies, the
participation of women in the armed forces, as officers and even at the
highest posts, is on the increase, reaching around 12 per cent in a few
countries, including a few countries with women in the top ranks.  The same
tendency was noted with regard to women cadets and graduates of military

24.    Analyses of national reports submitted by the 19 countries addressing
this subject in the review and appraisal suggested that, in most of the 19
countries, the participation of women in the police force, both in terms of
numbers and rank, was on the increase.  Most of the increase took place in the
past five years.  The same is true for female cadets and trainees, who in 1993
reached 33 per cent of the total in one country.  In one country the
percentage of female police chiefs was 13 per cent.  However, most women in
the police force were said to have been assigned to areas dealing with
violence against women, including rape, and to female prisons and women
prisoners, with limited possibilities for promotion and career development.

                       E.  Women in peace-keeping

25.    The issue of the participation of women in the military and police
takes on particular significance in the United Nations peace and security
operations, the main purpose of which is to avoid or defuse conflict and to
work out peaceful solutions.  The absence of women among the military
personnel in the United Nations peace-keeping forces reflects the absence of
women in the military forces of those countries which provide troops to United
Nations peace-keeping operations.  Women, however, have been active, although
highly underrepresented, participants in peace-keeping operations in civilian
roles, performing a variety of functions as medical and administrative
personnel, in supply and logistics, in supervising elections and as
negotiators and trainers for national reconciliation and democracy-building.

26.    From the establishment of the United Nations through 1993 there were
36 peace and security operations, 20 of which took place after 1986.  Almost
all early peace-keeping operations, except for one in the Congo from 1960 to
1964, were exclusively military in orientation.  In the period 1957-1989,
there were only 20 women in a total of approximately 10,000 military
personnel.  This was mainly the result of the exclusion of women from national
military forces in the majority of countries and an even greater prohibition
of women in combat roles.  As a result, fewer women were included in the
national military contingents, and those women who were included were mainly
in the medical field.  Despite an expansion in the number of peace-keeping
operations to 17 in 1993 and the presence of women as officers in combat
units, of four countries, the percentage of women in military and police
peace-keeping missions remained very low, around 2 per cent.  The distribution
of female personnel among various missions is shown in tables 6 and 7.

27.    During the period 1945-1988, the participation of women in the civilian
components of the peace-keeping operations ranged from 5.3 per cent to
23 per cent, with the highest participation in the 1961 Congo operation.  With
their roles expanded beyond strictly military functions to supervision of
elections, protection of human rights, police work, advisory and humanitarian
assistance, and promotion of national reconciliation and democracy, more women
have participated.  For example, in 1989 the percentage of women in the
Professional category (P-1 to P-4) of the peace-keeping operations was
38.6 per cent, in comparison with 35 per cent in the Secretariat, and at the
P-5 level, 18 per cent and 13.5 per cent, respectively.  This relatively high
percentage resulted from the greater participation of women in UNTAG (Namibia)
due to the creation of a more non-discriminatory and transparent selection
process by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  Women
constituted 40 per cent of Professional staff and were represented at the
senior level in UNTAG.  Although the top posts were held by men, there were 5
women at the Assistant Director (D-1, D-2) level, and 3 out of 10 regional
directors were women.

28.    The positive experience of Namibia has not, however, been replicated in
any other peace-keeping operation.  Another large operation, in Cambodia
(UNAMIC and UNTAC, 1991-1993), was particularly disappointing.  Women held no
decision-making posts even though many female civilians were involved.  All 7
D-2 director's posts and the 13 regional director's posts (P-5 to D-1) were
occupied by men.

29.    In 1993, women constituted 31.8 per cent of the civilian staff
(excluding locally recruited staff) serving in 11 out of 19 peace and security
missions.  The 12 missions with the greatest participation of women were
established after 1990.  However, the majority of the women in those missions
were in clerical grades.

30.    Throughout the history of peace-keeping there have been only two women
at the top decision-making level:  Ms. Margaret Anstee, Special Representative
in Angola (UNAVEM) and Ms. Angela King, the Chief of Mission in South Africa
and then Deputy Special Representative.  Ms. Anstee was the only woman among
25 Special Representatives appointed by the Secretary-General since 1945. 
Ms. King was a head of UNOMSA in its earliest phase, when it was small and
included 50 per cent women.  With the expansion of the mission before the
elections and the arrival of a new male head of mission and of many male
monitors selected by Governments, the participation of women dropped

    Table 6.  International United Nations civilian staff in peace-keeping and
              peacemaking missions, by category and mission, December 1993

                          All categories       P5-USG               P1-P4
                         ---------------- ------------------ -----------------
                                  Percent-         Percent-           Percent-
                                   age              age                 age
Mission     Country       Total   female    Total  female      Total    female
UNOSOM II   Somalia       373      27        18       0         108     15.7
UNTAC       Cambodia      338      39.9       6       0          45     15.6
UNPROFOR    Yugoslavia    314      41.4      20      15          83     18.1
ONUMOZ      Mozambique    167      35.5      10      10          41     34.1
UNIFIL      Lebanon       103      21.6       3       0          15      6.7
UNFICYP     Cyprus         31      22.6       4       0           2     50
UNDOF       Golan Heights  30       6.7       2       0           0      0
ONUSAL      El Salvador   140      42.1      17       5.9        82     48.8
UNIKOM      Kuwait/Iraq    78      17.9       4      25           5      0
MINURSO     Western
             Sahara       100      25         5       0          23     26.1
UNAVEM II   Angola         50      28         5       0           7     14.3
UNAMIR      Rwanda         48      29.2       3       0           4     25
UNTSO       Jerusalem     141      13.5       3       0           0      0
UNOMIL      Liberia        22      31.8       0       0           2      0
MICIVIH     Haiti                             0                   0
UNMOGIP     India/
             Pakistan      24      12.5       1       0           0      0
UNOMIG      Georgia         4      25         1                   0      0

                                              GS1-GS7            FS1-FS7
                                        -------------------- -----------------
                                                   Percent-           Percent-
                                                      age                age
Mission      Country                      Total     female     Total   female
UNOSOM II    Somalia                      150        54         97      3.1
UNTAC        Cambodia                     209        57.9       78      9
UNPROFOR     Yugoslavia                   159        68.6       52      5.8
ONUMOZ       Mozambique                    68        58.8       49      8.2
UNIFIL       Lebanon                       44        70.6      101      3
UNFICYP      Cyprus                         6        66.7       19     10.6
UNDOF        Golan Heights                  0         0         28      7.1
ONUSAL       El Salvador                   26        65.4       16      6.3
UNIKOM       Kuwait/Iraq                   26        46.2       43      2.3
MINURSO      Western Sahara                47        40.4       27      0
UNAVEM II    Angola                        22        59.1       16      0
UNAMIR       Rwanda                        21        61.9       20      0
UNTSO        Jerusalem                     16        81.3      122      4.9
UNOMIL       Liberia                       11        54.5        9     11.1
MICIVIH      Haiti                          0                    0
UNMOGIP      India/Pakistan                 0         0         23     13
UNOMIG       Georgia                        1         0          2     50

      Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, from information
provided by the Field Operations Division.

   Table 7.  Current personnel contributed by Member States to United Nations
             peace-keeping missions, by mission, 1993                        

                                      All personnel          Military a/
                                   --------------------  ------------------
                                               Percent-            Percent- 
                                                 age                  age
Mission         Country                Total    female     Total    female
UNOSOM II       Somalia               29 703     2.1      29 703     2.1
UNTAC b/        Cambodia              19 232     na       15 684     na
UNPROFOR        Yugoslavia            24 853     1.6      24 200     1.6
ONUMOZ          Mozambique             6 501     0.1       6 501     0.1
UNIFIL          Lebanon                5 247     2.3       5 247     2.3
UNFICYP         Cyprus                 1 237     1.1       1 201     0.7
UNDOF           Golan Heights          1 103     4.0       1 103     4.0
ONUSAL c/       El Salvador              706     0.3         161     0.6
UNIKOM          Kuwait/Iraq              369     1.9         369     1.9
MINURSO d/      Western Sahara           350     9.4         324    10.2
UNAVEM II       Angola                   316     1.0         256     0
UNAMIR          Rwanda                   512     0           510     0
UNTSO           Jerusalem                220     0           220     0
UNOMIL          Liberia                  246     0           246     0
MICIVIH         Haiti                    113     2.7          62     0
UNMOGIP         India/Pakistan            38     0            38     0
UNOMIG          Georgia                   12     0            12     0

                                       Civilian police     Military observers
                                    --------------------- --------------------
                                                Percent-              Percent-
                                                  age                   age 
Mission          Country               Total     female      Total     female
UNOSOM II        Somalia                  0        na
UNTAC b/         Cambodia             3 548       0.2          486        na
UNPROFOR         Yugoslavia             653       2.1          592        0
ONUMOZ           Mozambique               0        na          302        0
UNIFIL           Lebanon                  0        na
UNFICYP          Cyprus                  36      16.7           12        0
UNDOF            Golan Heights            0        na
ONUSAL c/        El Salvador            545       0.2          161        0.6
UNIKOM           Kuwait/Iraq              0        na          254        0
MINURSO d/       Western Sahara          26       0            233        3
UNAVEM II        Angola                  60       5            256        0
UNAMIR           Rwanda                   2       0             66        0
UNTSO            Jerusalem                0        na          220        0
UNOMIL           Liberia                  0                    181        0
MICIVIH          Haiti                   51       5.9
UNMOGIP          India/Pakistan           0                     38        0
UNOMIG           Georgia                  0                     12        0

    Source:  Division for the Advancement of Women, from information provided
by the Field Operations Division.

    a/  Including all military personnel (e.g., officers, enlisted
military observers), excluding civilian police.

    b/  Figures reflect staffing levels at second quarter, 1993.

    c/  Figures reflect deployment of personnel during the entire
period of 1993.

    d/  Military figures based on field communique' and lengths of
rotations among Member State contributors.

31.    National reports in the second review and appraisal provided
information on national contingents - in particular, in "Operation Desert
Storm" in Kuwait in 1990-1991 - where women represented 7 per cent of the
military forces.  They worked in all locations, including undeveloped desert
areas, as clerks, mechanics, health care providers, fuel handlers,
intelligence analysts, helicopter pilots, military police.  They were banned
from combat but received all relevant allowances and medals.  Perceptions of
women's performance were highly positive.  Women endured harsh conditions
similar to those of men.  Their physical strength was not an issue.  Gender
was not a deterrent to a unit's cohesion, and mixed units were sometimes
judged to have performed better than others.

32.    Women, whether military, police, or civilian, have participated at all
levels of the operations and have proved to be efficient, dedicated and ready
to endure hardship and undertake any assignment.  However, women do not
receive equal treatment with men in recruitment to peace and security
operations, placement, assignment of responsibilities and full utilization of
their skills.  With increased civilian and political functions in these
operations, women's almost complete exclusion from national military
contingents is no longer an excuse for their relatively low representation.

                  IN PEACE AND SECURITY

33.    Small-group research on task-oriented bodies suggests that, in order to
bring substantive difference into decision-making in terms of content and
priorities, style, working climate, and group dynamics, a "critical mass" must
be reached, involving at least 30-35 per cent of any minority group.  Women
have achieved this critical mass at the national decision-making level in only
a few countries.  Experience shows that when women in those countries acted in
solidarity they were able to have a visible impact on political decisions and
political culture.  Women's different political style has also been noted. 
Whenever women have joined decision-making bodies in sufficient numbers, they
have created a more collaborative atmosphere, characterized by mutual respect,
independent of prevailing political differences, and sought consensus.  They
were focused more on solving than discussing problems.  All of those
characteristics would be particularly beneficial if applied to peace and
security matters, conflict prevention and resolution, and peace-building.

34.    While information on women's influence at the top decision-making level
is naturally limited to those few countries that achieved "critical mass",
there is increasing evidence that the attitudes of women politicians, and in
particular women's groups at the grass-roots level, are different from those
of men to many world problems, including peace and security.

35.    According to public opinion polls, surveys and other sources of
information in North America and Western Europe, women are less militaristic,
more concerned with the preservation of peace and more opposed to any form of
increased militarization or nuclear energy than men.  The differences between
the attitudes of men and women towards national policy issues, including peace
and security issues, have been observed in a number of countries.  For
example, studies in the United States have shown that women office holders
have different attitudes to war and peace, nuclear energy, capital punishment
and reproductive rights.  Analyses of voting patterns in the United States
House of Representatives during 1969-1983 confirmed these differences.  Women
political leaders were more opposed to use of military force and more
supportive of international organizations.

36.    For example, in the second review and appraisal, the United States
national report confirmed the existence of a gender gap in men's and women's
attitudes to war and peace, and substantial differences were reflected by
public opinion polls in relation to defence spending, social programmes and
funding priorities.

37.    In some developing countries women have succeeded in placing issues of
their concern on the public agenda.  Women in India and Kenya have greatly
changed public attitudes and policies towards environmental issues.  Women in
Mexico and Brazil have changed both attitudes and legislation related to rape
and domestic violence, making them serious criminal offences.  Women in South
Africa have proposed gender-sensitive and balanced legislation.

38.    With regard to United Nations evidence on peace and security
operations, an internal review by male and female participants in recent peace
and security operations of the United Nations concluded that the participation
of women was a catalyst for a number of new attitudes and initiatives.  For

       (a)    When there was a critical mass of women in the peace and
security operation, women in the host country also tended to mobilize

       (b)    Such issues as the need for a code of conduct for the
participants in peace and security operations were placed on the agenda;

       (c)    The women were perceived as diffusers of tension, as
compassionate, unwilling to apply force, providing an element of
reconciliation; better prepared to listen and to learn from the situation at
hand; reflecting the image of stability and moral authority which fostered the
peace process.  Their presence seemed to reinforce a commitment to the
principle that United Nations peace-keepers were not armed and could only use
their weapons in self-defence;

       (d)    The women demonstrated an ability to gain the confidence and
trust of local people;

       (e)    The women were perceived as less threatening negotiators; active
in proposing solutions; more action-oriented and more willing to undertake
"unorthodox" actions such as participating in community meetings in polarized
communities undergoing conflict, joining in prayers or songs in order to
achieve reconciliation;

       (f)    The women reached groups that men might have found difficult to
reach and participated in community projects such as voter education;

       (g)    The women helped to dismiss traditional views and images of

       (h)    The women were available for deployment, not restrained because
of danger, and were willing to accept the challenges of working in the field. 
They worked effectively with both the military and the police.  They
considered their field experience stimulating, since they were often given
greater job responsibilities than at headquarters;

       (i)    Even in countries that were portrayed as traditional and
"culturally sensitive" to the presence of women, the women proved to be

39.    In addition to the normal obstacles faced by women in obtaining
decision-making positions, which have been detailed in previous reports,
specific obstacles were encountered by women with regard to peace and security
operations.  The first is related to recruitment, placement and the overall
situation of women in the United Nations system.  The second is related to
participation in the mission.  The following obstacles were identified:

       (a)    The participation of women, like that of men, to these missions
did not lead to any formal recognition or promotion upon return to
Headquarters.  In some cases, participation in the missions turned out to be
counter-productive in terms of their career development and promotion.  Some
participants were not able to return to their original posts;

       (b)    The criteria of recruitment for missions and procedures for
applying are neither transparent nor sufficiently publicized.  The positive
experience of Namibia was not used as a model in terms of recruiting more
women in the United Nations system for mission assignment;

       (c)    Although a lack of exit interviews to record the experience of
mission participants relates to both men and women, it affects women
particularly because of their position as "newcomers" and a "minority" on the
missions and the fact that women's particular contribution is not documented;

       (d)    The incorrect perception that women required greater security,
were weak and vulnerable or unable to tolerate hardship may have limited the
scope of their assignments and often their involvement in some missions.

40.    Factors conducive to the participation of women in peace and security
operations included the commitment of the leadership of the mission; respect
for the United Nations principles, including gender balance and equal
opportunities of career development and employment throughout the process of
planning the mission, its conduct and assessment; transparency in recruitment,
placement and evaluation of staff involved in the mission; interdependency
between the conduct during the mission and career development prospects;
active attempts to recruit qualified women for mission service within the
United Nations system and to issue policy directives encouraging Governments
to submit female candidates; and inclusion of a gender component to the
training of leadership and national contingents.

41.    It should be noted that an increase in women in senior decision-making
levels brings as a consequence a greater possibility for career advancement
for women.  In the four United Nations agencies headed by women executives,
there has been a general increase in the proportion of women professionals,
overall and, for most, at both the middle and senior management levels.


42.    In fulfilment of the target for improving the situation of women in the
United Nations, efforts should be made to increase the proportion of women in
peace and security areas, thus:

       (a)    All lists of candidates for any post be comprised of both men
and women;

       (b)    Programme managers should request rosters of qualified women as
part of every personnel search, which could be extended to member States,
other intergovernmental organizations, women's groups of all kinds and
professional associations.

43.    In order to make effective use of women's perspectives in all United
Nations peace-related activities 

       (a)    Efforts should be made to increase the proportion of women in
all peace-keeping, peacemaking, peace-building, preventive diplomacy, and
preventive activities including fact-finding and observer missions and in all
stages of peace negotiations, aiming at a target of at least 40 per cent;

       (b)    All-female fact-finding and assistance teams should be put
together when the situation can best be handled by women, such as instances in
which there are cultural constraints or there is a need to deal with problems
related to violence against women, especially rape;

       (c)    In conformity with already agreed targets, States should
increase the percentage of women participating in all United Nations forums
and activities concerned with peace and security.

44.    With a view to finding and employing alternatives to force and military
action, a number of initiatives could be taken:

       (a)    Weapons development, production, deployment and sales should be
registered with a view to their elimination and as a first step, the United
Nations Register of Arms Transfers could be expanded to include production, be
made obligatory and include all types of weapons;

       (b)    National and local Governments could impose regulations on hand
guns and personal weapons;

       (c)    Parents, teachers, child advocacy groups and similar
organizations could undertake a public education campaign to call attention to
the connection between violent play, toy weapons and the culture of violence;

       (d)    Given that United Nations Volunteers and volunteers from
non-governmental organizations world wide have made significant contributions
to the establishment of peace, especially at the community level and in
situations in which men could not have success - e.g., counselling rape
victims, women's increased participation in recognized volunteer roles should
be encouraged;

       (e)    Gender-sensitive traditional practices of conflict resolution
and reconciliation such as those cited in the Kampala Action Plan on Women and
Peace could be added to the repertoire of peacemaking procedures available to
the United Nations;

       (f)    Recognition and support should be given to indigenous women's
initiatives and creative local actions for peace, which are undertaken at
great risk and in areas of extremely violent conflict.

45.    In order to improve the capacity of the United Nations to promote peace
and security in a gender-sensitive way, including elimination of sexual
discrimination, harassment and abuse, a number of measures merit consideration
and action:

       (a)    Rape in the conduct of war should be defined as a serious war
crime comparable to terrorism or torture and thus added to Article 75 of the
Fourth Geneva Protocol;

       (b)    Gender-sensitivity training should be compulsory for all
personnel (male and female) in peace and security-related activities, as a
primary responsibility of troop-contributing countries but be re-enforced and
augmented by the United Nations for all peace-keeping operations;

       (c)    Compliance with policies relating to non-discrimination, as set
out in the Charter, staff rules and regulations and in policies of the
Secretary-General, should be considered in all job performance reviews and
should have appropriate weight in the determination of contractual status and
promotion throughout the United Nations system;

       (d)    Research could be conducted by the United Nations, in
cooperation with non-governmental organizations and peace research institutes,
on the extent, nature and effectiveness of women's participation in
international, national and local peace processes and movements; traditional
mechanisms for the containment of violence and resolution of conflict, and
grass-roots concepts of peace and security.


       1/     General Assembly resolution 34/180, annex, para. 7.

       2/     Ibid., para. 8.




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Date last updated: 06 December 1999 by DESA/DAW
Copyright 1999 United Nations