I guess this should actually read Phenomenal Women.
During my vacation to India, we passed a bunch of people dressed in blue like the woman above. And i remember wondering why they were in blue. That's UN peace keeping standard issue.
Last night, there was a piece on the world's untold stories and Liberia was the focus of the piece. But with a different spin.
During the 14 year civil war that literally crushed this country, abuse of women in the population of about 3.2 million people stood at 93.6%. 93.6% of the women that lived in Liberia at the time of conflict were abused. 73% of this number were raped. Heart breaking statistics. Even after the war ended 3 years ago, women continued to be abused -sometimes by UN peace keepers.
With the swearing in of Africa's first female president, things have changed. She has appointed women to key positions including making the head of police a woman. She was a riot to watch yesterday. Decked out in her uniform, she said women have always been the brains behind their families, have been the secretaries and administrative assistants behind the influential people in the country - so it was time to take center stage. I loved her confidence and cockiness.
Anyway - the object of this post - the phenomenal women i speak of here are the Indian UN peacekeepers doing their thing in Liberia. As a result of all the abuse faced by women in the past, the UN took the step to have women makeup the peacekeeping mission and a number of things have happened as a result of this:
- Women soldiers working with the citizenry brings a different response - less antagonistic and machismo, More compassion and dialogue
- It builds trust among the female citizenry. So far, they are not afraid or threatened by the peacekeepers and even find them approachable
- The Liberian police force that had a hard time getting new recruits (since all of the force was fired) has had about 200% increase in the number of volunteers - mostly women
What struck me the most as well is that most of these Indian peacekeepers already had experience in conflict regions with most of them serving in the disputed region of Kashmir. Almost all these women are wives and mothers. The way they handled their weapons, their coordinated efforts...i was so psyched. During missions, they just seemed almost robotic. But in their base camp, bollywood movies in the background, laughter and almost normalcy
I cannot put into words exactly how this story made me feel but I am proud to be WOMAN