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Remarks by Secretary (West) at the SCO Seminar on Role of Women in Armed Forces (October 14, 2021)

October 14, 2021

Hon'ble Raksha Mantri Ji
Chief of Defence Staff, General Rawat
His Excellency Azymbakiev, Deputy Secretary General of SCO
His Excellency Giyosov, Executive Director of RATS, SCO
Distinguished Members of Armed Forces of the SCO Member States , dear delegates

Dobri Deyn ! ( Good day )


It is my privilege to address the first ever SCO Seminar on Role of Women in Armed Forces today. As you are aware, India has a long and glorious history of women who have been leaders in politics and as well as on the battlefield.

2. The past decades have opened up new vistas for women in the Armed Forces of India. Our women military officers have created a niche for themselves at the global level in UN peace-keeping missions.

3. Recognizing the stellar role of women in this sphere, our government had proposed to host the first-ever SCO Seminar on ‘Role of Women in Armed Forces’. I would like to thank the esteemed Member Countries for their cooperation and participation and congratulate Ministry of Defence for hosting today's Seminar.

4. Ladies and Gentlemen, kindly allow me to share India’s experience in UN Peace Keeping Forces. India has been an active participant in the deliberations on issues focusing on women empowerment and gender mainstreaming at various UN bodies. During the past two decades, the normative framework for Women, Peace and Security has been strengthened considerably. The Indian Army has contributed women officers as Military Observers and Staff Officers apart from them forming part of Medical Units being deployed in UN Missions.

5. In 1960, women of the Indian Armed Forces Medical Services headed the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Congo to assist with the setting up of a 400-bed hospital.

6. In 2007, India created history by deploying the first ever all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) for UN Peacekeeping in Liberia. Due to their dedication, professionalism and motivation, the all-female Formed Police Unit proved to be a strong, visible role- model; gaining world-wide attention and illustrating the significant contribution that women can make towards global peace and security. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the FPU’s "unwavering performance, professionalism and discipline,” and commended its contributions in creating an environment for the Government of Liberia to assume fully its security responsibilities by 30 June 2016.

7. In 2019, India deployed a Female Engagement Team as part of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). This female engagement team deployed in Congo (MONUSCO) has played a critical role in peacekeeping and inspiring women in local communities.

8. Major Suman Gawani, who was earlier deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), was given the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for 2019, for mentoring over 230 UN Military Observers.

9. The Indian contingent in UNMISS based in Malakal (South Sudan), was awarded a UN medal for its exemplary service for UNMISS in December 2020. The recipients included Major Chetna, an engineering officer, the only female peacekeeper among the Indian troops.

10. Ladies and Gentlemen, the exemplary courage, valour and service of our women warriors is an inspiration for society that no role is out of bounds for women in any field of activity. I am sure that we will similarly get the opportunity to hear the experiences of our distinguished guests, that will enhance our knowledge and serve to inform policymakers.

Spaciba ! (Thank you)

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