The presence of these Indian police women has greatly inspired Liberian women into joining the security sector. “When the local women see the female peacekeepers, they get inspired by them – [they see] ladies can perform the same role as male counterparts,” Colonel Madhubala Bala, the contingent’s commander, told the UN News Centre in an interview.
And the proof is in the numbers. Liberian women now make up 17 per cent of the country’s security sector, as compared to 6 per cent nine years ago before the arrival and influence of the all-female Indian contingent.
“They’ve served as role models for the local girls, and the effect on Liberian women was very significant,” added the Colonel.
According to UNMIL press release, since 2007, there have been nine rotations of all-female police units from India, whose primary responsibilities have been to provide 24-hour guard duty and public order management and to conduct night patrols in and around the capital, Monrovia, while assisting to build the capacity of local security institutions.
On February 12, 125 women and supporting personnel that constitute the unit packed their bags and returned home to all corners of India following their one-year rotation in the post-conflict nation. Thanking the unit for their meritorious service to Liberia, President Sirleaf said “If I had my will, I would have recommended for another unit of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to leave, so that the Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU) would continue its stay in the country for the time being,”
In a statement issued in New York ahead of the departure, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the FPU’s “unwavering performance, professionalism and discipline,” and commended its contributions in creating an environment for the Government of Liberia to assume fully its security responsibilities by 30 June 2016.
“Through their work, they managed criminality, deterred sexual and gender-based violence and helped rebuild safety and confidence among the population,” said the statement, in which Mr. Ban also underscored that the conduct of the FPU served as an example of how the deployment of more female uniformed personnel can help the UN in its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.
“The Secretary-General thanks all the women who served in the FPU for inspiring all Liberians, as well as current and future generations of female police officers, and becoming role models for gender equality,” the statement added.
They’ve served as role models for the local girls, and the effect on Liberian women was very significant
According to the UN, India has been an unequivocal supporter of women in peace and security worldwide. It is currently the fourth largest police-contributing country with 1,009 police officers worldwide, and the third largest contributor of female police officers with 115, just behind Bangladesh and Nepal.