Military training course in Abu Dhabi highlights women's growing role in peacekeeping

A total of 140 cadets from Arab, Asian and African countries are taking part

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A nine-week training course in Abu Dhabi aimed at increasing women’s participation in military and peacekeeping operations is starting this week in the emirate, with 140 participating cadets from Arab, Asian and African countries.

The Fatima bint Mubarak Initiative for Women, Peace and Security launched its third Women, Peace and Security training programme on Wednesday, which will take place at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School in Abu Dhabi.

The programme involves seven weeks of intensive military training and two weeks of peacebuilding and peacekeeping training.

I’m determined to go back home and show that women are always important in the military
Capt Rachel Riak Kon, South Sudan

It is organised by the General Women’s Union in co-operation with the Ministry of Defence and in co-ordination with UN Women.

The participants this year come from the Yemeni island of Socotra, Jordan, Bahrain, Liberia, Gambia, Senegal, Niger, Pakistan, Chad, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Mauritania.

Capt Rachel Riak Kon, from South Sudan, told The National that the course shows the growing the importance of women in the military.

“I am here to prove that women can make a difference,” said Capt Kon.

“I’m determined to go back home and show that women are always important in the military.

“We cannot only defend our country but we can also help bring about peace and stability.”

Women, Peace and Security training programme participants (left to right) Remadji Dounia Stephanie, a police officer from Chad; Naeema Alblalooshi, a police officer from Bahrain, and Capt Rachel Riak Kon, from South Sudan. Photo: Victor Besa / The National

Cadet Naeema Al Balooshi, a police officer from Bahrain, said women's role in the military has grown significantly.

“We are at a time where women are not just equals but supporters of men,” said Cadet Al Balooshi.

“I am here representing every woman and my country. I am here to make myself proud and my country.”

Lt Remadji Stephanie, from Chad, added: “I am determined to go back home to help end the terrorism and violence we face at the hands of Boko Haram, not through violence but through peace.”

Abu Dhabi conference

The programme seeks to achieve the strategic objectives of Security Council Resolution 1325 of increasing the number of qualified women working in military, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

A total of 497 women were trained under the Sheikha Fatima Women, Peace and Security Initiative, which was launched in 2019.

The launch of the programme coincides with Abu Dhabi's hosting of the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security, where Dr Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, will be a keynote speaker.

Dr Bahous was in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to meet the participants. She praised the efforts of the UAE in empowering women in the military sector.

“The UAE has been a strong champion and a prominent partner in making progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5, Gender Equality,” said Dr Bahous.

“In this regard, I commend the efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak to empower Women in Peace and Security, by providing training and capacity building opportunities for women from the Middle East, Africa and Asia in military and peacekeeping.

“UN Women is proud to be a partner in these efforts that advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.”

Also speaking on the first day of the conference are Mohammed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence; Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, and Lana Nusseibeh, assistant minister for political affairs and the UAE's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN.

Updated: September 07, 2022, 4:54 PM