I am Generation Equality: Dilya Akhmetova, a UN peacekeeper from Kazakhstan
Billions of people around the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
I am Generation Equality because...
Three things you can do to be Generation Equality
- Do not be indifferent when you see injustice against women
- Always make people aware of the importance of gender
- Raise children free from gender stereotypes
I am concerned about women’s rights and gender equality not only because I am a woman, but also because I train peacekeeping personnel before they leave for UN missions. I believe that the role of women, and the protection of their rights and freedoms is a key priority for peace and security. I specialize in gender issues and teach classes.
Why do we need more female peacekeepers?
The participation of women in UN peacekeeping operations is essential to their success. Women’s security issues should be addressed with the participation of women. We should be actively involved in the processes of building a safe world. Often a woman is perceived as a victim, but in fact, women are very strong. If something threatens the safety of our children and families, we can do a lot. After all, we want to live and work in peace and harmony. If the number of women peacekeepers in military and police contingents is increased, this will help us achieve sustainable peace and improve the situation of women and girls in conflict-affected regions.
An invaluable life experience
During my mission in Lebanon, our task was to organize the humanitarian work of five battalions and distribute it to 109 cities and villages. Among our projects were: outreach of medical and dental centres in those villages where there were no hospitals or clinics, building roads, providing construction or repairs of schools and boarding schools, churches and mosques, conducting courses on cutting and sewing for women to learn a profession and start earning an income themselves. I held meetings with local authorities, municipalities and village elders to identify the most vulnerable areas where our assistance and help were needed. I also organized taekwondo courses for women so that they could learn how to protect themselves.
“Women should be actively involved in the processes of building a safe world.”
In Lebanon, those in charge of children’s education and care for the poor and sick are predominantly women. Local women are directors, managers, teachers of schools, boarding schools, orphanages, hospitals, and here all the doors opened for me, literally. It was difficult for my male colleagues to get on the "feminine" side of the above establishments. They were never invited to a cup of tea, which would turn into three hours of conversations about problems in families, in schools, and in the state as a whole. And it was through such conversations that we found out where to send humanitarian aid. Often, women in the presence of men did not voice their anxieties and problems, because it is not customary for them to speak when men speak, so much remains unspoken and misunderstood. I was glad to be able to fill this gap, to make my contribution. Today, in the UN peacekeeping system, women are much more in demand than men.
Dilya Akhmetova, 46, is Head of the Peacekeeping Training Department at the Peacekeeping Training Centre of the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan. Having served in Lebanon with the UN Interim Force as a Staff Officer, she now trains officers and sergeants on the basics of peacekeeping.