The 103 Indian women who have called this compound home since January make up the United Nations' first-ever all-female peacekeeping unit. The women have quickly become part of Monrovia's urban landscape in their distinctive blue camouflage fatigues and flak jackets. They guard the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, patrol the streets day and night, control crowds at rallies and soccer games, and respond to calls for armed back-up from the national police who, unlike the Indian unit, do not carry weapons.
Liberian and UN officials hope their presence will help inspire Liberian women to join a fledgling police force struggling to recruit female officers. The all-female unit also signifies a revolution in UN peacekeeping, which has been rocked by rape and abuse scandals in recent years, notably in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. Analysts say an increase in female peacekeepers will help limit abuses perpetrated by the very people sent to safeguard the rights of those already traumatized by conflict.This is the sort of thing all governments who belong to the U.N. should consider. It's rather shameful that India, not exactly a bastion for women's rights, was the country to put this into motion.