UNITED NATIONS APPOINTS FIRST FEMALE COMMANDER OF PEACEKEEPING FORCE
The United Nations and its Secretary General Ban Ki Moon have just made a monumental decision on May 12, 2014: to appoint a woman to be the first female commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force!
Her name is Kristin Lund, she is a Major General in the Norwegian army, and has previously served in Lebanon, the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Can we get a “hell yeah!” for progress?!
She will replace Chinese Major General Chao Liu on 13 August as commander of about 1,000 peacekeepers in Cyprus. It has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south since 1974 and talks have resumed to reunite the Mediterranean island. She’s got a great task ahead of her, of which she is 110% qualified and clearly the UN has faith in her ability to clear up the situation.
Aside from using her military experience to bring peace to a country in strife, Kristin told the press she wants her new appointment to shatter the glass ceiling that unfortunately still exists in the United Nations.
“I think it’s time, and I think it’s important that other women see that it’s possible also in the UN system to get up in the military hierarchy to become a force commander.”
With over 34 years of military command and staff experience at national and international levels, the Major General heads the Veteran Affairs section of the Norwegian Defense.
In 2009, she was the first female army officer to be promoted to the rank of Major General and was appointed Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Home Guard.
The 55 year old joined the Norwegian army in 1979 and went on her first overseas mission in 1986 as transport officer with the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.
She said that was where she fell in love with the UN and learned that “maybe the most important weapon that you have is communication and to build relations.”
As a major general, Kristin said: “You have to be a thinker and a doer, but I’m probably more a doer.”
Peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed. Such assistance comes in many forms, including confidence-building measures, power-sharing arrangements, electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, and economic and social development.
UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.
United Nations peacekeeping was initially developed during the Cold War as a means of resolving conflicts between states by deploying unarmed or lightly armed military personnel from a number of countries, under UN command, to areas where warring parties were in need of a neutral party to observe the peace process.
Militaries around the world have typically been male dominated industries since the days before women were even allowed to enlist. It is still a battle for minorities and women especially to even out the gender ranks, seeing someone like Kristin Lund gives other women great hope, despite the atrocities women face.
Women breaking the glass ceiling in all areas is a must, and it only takes a few pioneer women to set the tone for what is to come. When it comes to leadership, visibility is key, and being prepared to step up when you are given the opportunity.
It’s not about proving yourself as a woman, but showing you are just as capable of taking on the role of CEO, manager, commander, head, major general etc because of your training.
Stories like this inspire us to realize that the world may be 50% women but mostly male dominated, but we are pushing through and forging new paths. Anything is possible! If Major General Kristin Lund is anything to go by, at the age of 55, is that it is never too late to start setting new goals and breaking new ground.