The story of UNMIL [Book]: Women’s police contingent: role models for a decade
In 2007, UNMIL deployed the first all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) from India and, with annual rotations, they continued to serve the Mission for 10 years, providing critical policing support as well as role models for Liberia.
FPUs are self-contained units consisting of 120 to 140 officers from a single country which are often used for crowd control and security. During their deployments in Liberia, the women’s police unit was to provide static, visible security outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They also conducted joint patrols with the Liberia National Police and VIP protection and escort duties, and they assisted in developing the public order capacity of the LNP. They also provided medical services and training to Liberian security agency personnel and UN staff including training new recruits for the LNP and Liberia Immigration Service on the provision of medical services and other outreach activities to local communities.
Due to their dedication, professionalism and motivation, the all-female FPUs were strong, visible role models, gaining world-wide attention and illustrating the significant contribution that women can make towards the provision of security.
Liberian women were watching: In 2016, women made up 17 per cent of the country’s security sector, as compared to 6 per cent before the arrival of the Indian contingent.
“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, one of the contingent’s commanders said. “They’ve served as role models for the local girls, and the effect on Liberian women was very significant.”
Upon the departure of the last contingent in 2016, then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that: “Through their work, they managed criminality, deterred sexual and genderbased violence and helped rebuild safety and confidence among the population.”
“We see you as family,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the final, outgoing police contingent at a farewell ceremony in 2016.