She is a police officer working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the fifth of a series of women peacekeepers’ profiles Africa Renewal has shared so far. Ms. Sawadogo is from Burkina Faso and has been in the police force for 4 decades.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Lt-Col. Clemence Doamba Sawadogo from Burkina Faso. I am on my fourth mission with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). I have over 40 years’ experience in the police. I am here to share this long professional experience gained in my country for civilians’ protection.
What are your responsibilities in this mission and what is your typical day like?
I am a United Nations Police (UNPOL) supervisor. I have successively supervised four UNPOL sectors and one sub-sector in Uvira, Goma, Kisangani and Lubumbashi here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). I am currently the head of the Uvira sub-sector.
My daily duties include monitoring the security situation, organizing and following up on training sessions for the Congolese National Police, as well as managing joint working teams in local police stations to strengthen their operational capacity. My day begins with a morning briefing to assess the security situation and then dispatch patrols in crime-affected areas; and report back to the mission leadership for appropriate measures to protect civilians. I then assign daily operational tasks to the mission police forces.
How long have you been a peacekeeper?
I arrived here in the DRC on 15 November 2007. I am involved in protection of vulnerable people, including survivors of sexual violence, women, children and refugees in particular, but also in strengthening the institutional and professional capacities of the local police.
What did your family and friends back home think of your decision to leave your country and work for a UN peacekeeping mission?
They were reluctant at first, but they were relieved when they found out that I could come home for leave regularly. They are fine with it now because they understood there is great pride in serving the UN.
What are the three things you like most about the mission and the country?
I like to put a smile on the faces of people in difficulty — refugees and displaced persons from armed conflicts. I also like to share my experience with the local police to build their capacity. I very much like training local female police officers.
The DRC is a beautiful country with pleasant weather and not as hot as my home country.
Which part of your job do you find most difficult and why?
I have been a UNPOL sector supervisor since 2012. Working with officers from different cultural backgrounds is often not easy.
Do you think women peacekeepers serve as role models for the local people?
Absolutely! Peacekeepers serve as role models for the local people. For example, as part of International Women's Day [8 March] activities, I led a joint patrol team of UN and local policewomen for a weekly market patrol. This was greatly appreciated by the people. We also work to show women's organizations the value of having women in the police, particularly with regard to community policing — a woman can play this role well.
What would you say to women soldiers considering a career in peacekeeping?
I would ask them to be prepared to make their contribution in the protection of civilians, which most often consists of women and children. The participation of women peacekeepers is an asset in supporting survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and it makes it easier to interact with communities.