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29 September - The United Nations initiative to boost the number of female police officers deployed in peacekeeping missions around the globe has made real progress since it was launched a year ago, according to the world body’s top police official.

The so-called Global Effort was launched in August 2009 with the aim of more than doubling the proportion of women comprising UN Police (UNPOL) to 20 per cent by 2014. Today about 8.7 per cent of the almost 14,000 UNPOL deployed around the world – or 1,218 – are women.

“It’s only been a year since we launched the Global Effort, but we are seeing encouraging signs and real progress,” UN Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler told the annual training conference of the International Association of Women Police, held in the United States city of Minneapolis earlier this week.

“In every meeting that I have with Member States, I raise the issue and in every meeting, I am met with a positive response.”

Bangladesh deployed its first all-female formed police unit (FPU) to Haiti in June. India first deployed an all-female police unit to Liberia in 2007 and continues to do so now for the fourth year in a row, she noted.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) received 136 female officers – from Bangladesh, Gambia, Ghana, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe – and is set to receive another 19 from Pakistan later this year.

In addition, Rwanda will be deploying 130 female police officers later this year.

“Overall, the number of women has increased in almost every mission where UN Police are deployed,” said Ms. Orler, who led a delegation of more than 50 policewomen from 40 countries to the conference.

She added that increasing the number of women is not just about tackling sexual and gender-based violence.

“More generally, the presence of female police officers provides trust and confidence in the police. Female police officers play an important role as security providers, mediators, investigators and trainers in reconstructing police services around the world.

“They have a major impact as role models for the populations whom they serve.”

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