Female Bangladeshi peacekeepers inspire the women of Wau to join security forces
Female members of the Bangladeshi military contingent serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan are inspiring women in the communities they serve to consider a career in the country’s security forces.
Fifteen female Bangladeshi officers and non-commissioned personnel are serving as peacekeepers in Wau. They shared their experience of life in the military with local women during a special interactive session focusing on gender equality.
“I was always wondering how women soldiers could go to battlefields leaving behind their husbands, children and family,’’ said Viola Alexandra Umeli, the Deputy Speaker of the Wau Legislative Assembly.
‘’Today, I have experienced the lives of female peacekeepers who are confidently and comfortably performing assigned tasks with their male counterparts, overcoming all odds and challenges.”
The session generated huge interest among women leaders in Wau and the peacekeepers responded to the discussion just as passionately.
“I am very proud to represent my country in UN peacekeeping. All my dedication rests with my job,” said Private Sabina as she explained her initial difficulties in joining the army, including adjusting her family life and tackling the societal opposition to women in the armed forces.
“Though my family and friends initially were agitated about my enrolment in the army, now they are encouraging me as I have overcome all difficulties in serving together with my male colleagues.”
Sabina’s commander, Major Afroza Ferdousy Shilpy, described how the role and responsibilities of female peacekeepers are identical to men whether it is carrying out administrative or operational duties.
‘’Women and children are eager to speak to us about their miseries and sufferings, especially sexual abuse wherever we go,’’ said Major Afroza. ‘’This makes us women more dependable and reliable to the communities we serve.”
The chair of the women’s caucus in the Wau Legislative Assembly, Florence Abina, said the discussion would inspire girls to consider joining South Sudan’s security forces.
“This is a new experience for us to come across female soldiers in a UN peacekeeping mission,’’ she said enthusiastically. ‘’We will motivate our young girls to develop an interest in joining the army.”