UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Friday calling on the United Nations and its 193 member nations to step up action to increase the number of women in military and civilian positions at all levels in the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.

The resolution recognizes “the indispensable role of women in increasing the overall performance and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations,” stressing that a better balance between men and women contributes to “greater credibility” of the U.N. missions among the people they are mandated to protect, and more effective community engagement.

The Indonesian-sponsored measure puts a spotlight on the huge disparity between men and women in the U.N.’s 13 peacekeeping operations, despite efforts over decades to improve the gender balance.

Calling himself “a proud feminist,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lashed out at men who abuse power and declared at March observances of International Women’s Day that the fight for gender equality is “the biggest human rights challenge we face.” He has made the promotion of women and achieving gender equality a top priority within the United Nations.

Friday’s resolution recognizes “the significance” of the 20th anniversary of a Security Council resolution on women peace and security and the 25th anniversary of the U.N. women’s conference in Beijing that adopted a 150-page road map to achieve gender equality as “momentum” for all countries to implement the resolution adopted in 2000.

It said this should be done “by ensuring and promoting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes” and increasing the number of civilian and uniformed women in peacekeeping at all levels and in all positions, including senior leadership positions.”

According to the U.N. Department of Peace Operations, women made up 1% of deployed uniformed personnel in 1993. Today, it said, only 6% of all uniformed military, police and justice and corrections personnel in field missions are women.

In 2019, out of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers, women constituted 4.7% of military contingents and 10.8% of police units in U.N. peacekeeping missions, the department said. “In total, only 6% of all uniformed military, police and justice and corrections personnel in field missions are women.”

In 2015, the Security Council called for doubling the number of women in uniformed peace operations by 2028.

This means increasing the number of women in military contingents to 15 percent, the number of women military observers and staff officers to 25 percent, and the number of individual women officers to 30 percent and women in police units to 20 percent, the Department of Peace Operations said.

The resolution encourages the 193 U.N. member nations “to develop strategies and measures to increase the deployment of uniformed women to peacekeeping operations” including by providing access to information and training and “identifying and addressing barriers in the recruitment, deployment, and promotion of uniformed women peacekeepers.”

It expresses concern at allegations of sexual harassment in peacekeeping operations and affirms the secretary-general’s “zero tolerance policy” on all forms of sexual harassment. It requests the U.N. chief “to strengthen efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment within peacekeeping operations, in close cooperation and consultation with member states.”

The Department of Peace Operations said the U.N. recently deployed “a record number of women into the most senior military roles in U.N. peace operations – with one force commander and two deputy force commanders now serving in the field.”

The department said member states are now requested to nominate a minimum of 20% women for individual police officer positions, the department said, and priority is being given to police units that include women.

By Associated Press