General Assembly Security Council

United Nations Security Council Open Arria Formula meeting


“Call to lead by example: Ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of Women in UN-led Peace Processes”


Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations


8 March 2021



Mr. President,


I thank Ireland, Mexico and all the co-sponsors for organizing this meeting on this important theme, especially to coincide with the International Women’s Day celebrations though we have reservations on the use of the ARRIA format per se.


We in India have been shaped by the idea of “Shakti”, the divine feminine strength and energy that creates the world. Our history, both ancient and contemporary, hold numerous examples of strong women role models.


During India’s struggle for freedom, women were at the forefront in practically every aspect of our effort. In fact, the Indian freedom-fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose raised for the first time an all Women Regiment in the Indian National Army – Rani of Jhansi Regiment, where this Regiment fought on the eastern front of India and created history.


Even in the United Nations, coincidentally, we have just celebrated today the life of Dr. Hansa Mehta through a memorial lecture in her name. She made a historical contribution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by changing the words “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal”. She was the only woman member of the committee other than Madam Eleanor Roosevelt. Additionally, India’s Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.


India had a woman Prime Minister long before most other countries had one. Let me underscore, that it is important that women’s voices find greater say not just in higher decision making but are also integrated from grass roots governance structures upwards, so that equal participation at all levels of society gets fully mainstreamed. I am happy to inform that in India, we now have more than 1.3 million elected women representatives at the grassroots level who take a leadership role in decision-making for the welfare of their local community. Our Prime Minister has called for moving from women’s development to women-led development. Let us not forget that a woman-led development is also a more compassionate one.

Mr. President,


We have no doubt that the full and equal partnership of women in peace and development is the foundation of a peaceful, equitable and sustainable world and sustains the effectiveness of peacebuilding.


UNSC resolution 1325 was a landmark step that for the first-time linked gender equality and the maintenance of international peace and security and recognized women’s participation as key to resolving conflict and securing peace. The enhancement of women’s involvement in conflict prevention and post conflict reconstruction activities requires commitment, capacity and institution building at the ground level.


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 frameworks on Women, Peace and Security have been strengthened considerably. Today, there is a greater awareness about the centrality of meaningful participation of women in UN’s peace and security efforts including peacekeeping.


In the "Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations” under Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), Member States agreed to collectively commit to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda and its priorities.

India welcomes the recently launched "Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy” and sees it as a collective commitment towards implementing A4P. India is committed to increasing the number of women peacekeepers. India has already deployed a Female Engagement Team at the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Rapidly Deployable Battalion in MONUSCO. We have also pledged a Women Formed Police Unit (FPU) under the Peacekeeping Readiness Capability System.

Mr. President,

India fully supports UN Secretary General’s zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse. India was the first country to contribute to the Secretary-General's Trust Fund for Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and also signed the voluntary compact on SEA with the Secretary-General in 2017. The Indian Prime Minister has joined the "Circle of Leadership” on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations operations.




India is also funding a project of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance called, "Pipeline to Peacekeeping Command Program” (PCP) to develop the capacity of future commanders and managers to lead by example and raise awareness of UN standards of conduct among their personnel.


Indian peacekeepers are playing an important mentoring role to prevent conflict related sexual violence. Major Suman Gawani, an Indian woman peacekeeper, deployed earlier with UNMISS, mentored over 230 UN Military Observers and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the Mission’s team sites. In recognition of her service, she was awarded the UN military gender advocate of the year-2019. She also trained South Sudanese government forces and helped them launch their action plan to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.


Mr. President,


India’s contribution to the strong and positive engagement of UN with the countries facing or recovering from prolonged conflicts through deployment of uniformed women contingent goes back to 1960 when women of the Indian Armed Forces Medical Services headed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Congo to assist with the setting up of a 400-bed hospital.

In 2007, India created history by deploying the first ever all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) for UN Peacekeeping in Liberia. This unit served in Liberia for a decade and through their work served as an example of how the deployment of more female uniformed personnel can help the UN in its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. During the farewell of Indian FPU, the then President of Liberia underlined the contribution of the force in "inspiring Liberian women, imparting in them the spirit of professionalism and encouraging them to join operations that protect the nation”.  The tenure of the Indian FPU brought profound changes in Liberian societal matrix. It may be noted that after deployment of the Indian FPU:

• The number of women applying to join the Liberia National Police (LNP) tripled from approximately 120 to 350 within two months of the arrival of Indian FPU

• The number of women enrolled at police academy shot up from four per class to 30 per class in 2007 and 100 per class in 2008 and 2009.

• Female representation in Liberian Security Services grew from 10% to 17%.

Lastly, Mr. President, women’s effective participation in electoral and political processes and women’s leadership in decision-making have been globally acknowledged as vital contributors to more stable and inclusive societies. Unfortunately, women even today continue to be outnumbered by men in political decision making worldwide. This must change.

India remains committed to working towards the meaningful participation of women in all areas of human activity and decision-making, be it political representation or resolving international peace and security issues.

I wish all colleagues, including you, Madam President, a very happy Women’s Day indeed.

I thank you.