United States and Uruguay Collaborate to Promote Women, Peace, and Security
As Uruguayan Army Lieutenant Yumae Amicone tells it, “I have seen with my own eyes how important the female presence can be in a conflict zone, to show women and children that they are not alone–to sit with them, listen to them, share moments where they can feel free to speak about anything–but most of all, to show them that we are people they can trust.” Lt Amicone is one of the 88 women peacekeepers that Uruguay currently deploys to United Nations (UN) peace operations. Uruguay was already the leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations in the Western Hemisphere, but now Uruguay is distinguishing itself as an international leader in promoting the participation of women in peacekeeping operations. Through their long-standing partnership in the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), Uruguay and the United States have worked in tandem to expand the role of women in peacekeeping and enhance gender integration. Uruguay has previously instructed a GPOI-funded Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) mobile training team course and hosted a joint U.S.-UN training course for investigating misconduct by peacekeepers including gender-based violence. With Uruguay leading the way, GPOI partners have increased the number of deployed female peacekeepers by 109% over the past decade, compared to a 38% increase among non-GPOI countries.
Lieutenant Amicone recently completed the relatively new UN engagement platoon training course in Uganda, which she described as life-changing. She says, “it has been an incredible experience for me, in which I left home as one person and came back as a completely different one.” The new concept of an engagement platoon is to have deployed infantry units comprised evenly between men and women, to be more representative of the gender makeup within local communities, increase opportunities for dialogue, and improve community relations. Lt Amicone found the training incredibly valuable for both sharpening the skills the students would need in the field, but also impressing upon them a deeper understanding of the profound effects that armed conflict has on women and children. In addition to training in Uganda, Lt Amicone deployed with the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which only reaffirmed her dedication to the UN mission, stating that “I consider that there is no greater honor than knowing that our mere presence in a conflict zone can change so many lives for the better.” The unique combination of GPOI support, willing force-provider countries, and committed servicemembers like Lt Amicone gives hope for those war-torn countries that look to navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
More information about the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) can be found here: https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-global-programs-and-initiatives