History made and milestone for all

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THE Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has created another history with the deployment of two female officers to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur, South Sudan.

Sergeant Andrea Kierre and Inspector Agnes Ape are the first RSIPF female officers to be deployed to a UN peacekeeping mission. Sgt Charles Alisineuli is the lone male colleague in the three-man team which leaves the country tomorrow for Darfur.

Sgt Kierre and Insp Ape’s deployment is not only cause for celebration for the RSIPF alone, but for the women of Solomon Islands, the duo’s respective communities, their families, and the country as a whole.

More importantly Kierre and Ape’s feat is a boost for the cause, so to speak. It is a step forward for equality and equity for women of Solomon Islands. It is a reinforcement to the ongoing gender campaign to have women’s voices be heard with impartiality in the nation.

Above all, it is a stark ‘Yes We Can’ reminder for us of the immense potentials our women and girls have.

The evolution of women involvement in international peacekeeping is a motivating testimony which reflects sheer steel-willed determination to rise up and be equal.

According to UN’s peacekeeping website (peacekeeping.un.org), for 32 years (1957- 1989) a total of only 20 uniformed women served as peacekeepers.

Today there are more than 7,000 women actively involved in UN peacekeeping duties.

UN peacekeeping says, “In all fields of peacekeeping, women peacekeepers have proven that they can perform the same roles, to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts. It is an operational imperative that we recruit and retain female peacekeepers.”

Kierre and Ape will join more than 1,000 women peacekeepers stationed in Darfur.

And, the RSIPF can give itself a pat on the back for producing its first female peacekeepers. RSIPF has done mighty well to get here within a span of only two years. This proves RSIPF’s commitment to the gender equality and progress of women in the police force, and is a manifest of Commissioner Varley’s encouragement for RSIPF women officers to be role models for other women and girls.

For Kierre and Ape, the road to Darfur may have understandably been a struggle, and may continue to be so. But, they can take on board the powerful words of the first woman to lead a UN Peacekeeping Mission, Maj Gen Kristin Lund of Norway, as she recounts how she ‘shattered the glass ceiling’ on her appointment in 2014.

“I felt that I had to work twice as hard as the men so that they noticed my work.

“… I was given a temporary promotion to major, and some people didn’t like that – plus, I was a woman. They tried to hamper my work, but they were unsuccessful.” She had begun her illustrious career as a transport officer for the UN.

Island Sun joins the rest of the country in congratulating Sgt Kierre and Insp Ape, and looks forward to documenting reports of accomplishments in their mission and a successful return home in a year’s time.