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All-Female Indian Unit in Liberia Shows How to Keep the Peace


A second Indian all-female contingent has been deployed in Liberia for a few months now, showing that women can become the norm for peacekeeping operations. They are also inspiring Liberian women to become part of the country's security reconstruction. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Monrovia.

Indian policewomen wearing blue-denim uniforms pick up and load their weapons at their fortified base in Congo Town, a suburb of Monrovia.

While the compound's generator buzzes in the background, chief operational officer Mamta Singh reminds them of their duties.

"First of all, when we landed here, the first assignment we got was security of the ministry of the Foreign Affairs building which is also the office of the president of Liberia," said Mamta Singh. "That is a 24-hours rotation duty which we have. Apart from that, we always have, every day, night patrol, that is mobile, as well as foot patrolling."

The patrol is being driven across congested and pot-holed streets by an Indian male driver in an Indian-made Tata vehicle.

Some of the support staff is male, but all peacekeepers in this unit are female. Singh says her unit can inspire Liberian women to try and enlist in their own security forces.

"The Liberian women are definitely getting motivated. More and more are coming to join the police force," she added. "So we are also a motivational factor for women who are here, the Liberian women who have been at war, where they have suffered a lot."

As a unit member receives a message on her walkie-talkie, a passerby expresses gratitude for the peacekeepers' work.

"The peacekeepers are nice because I see everything is all right. People are moving well, there is no trouble," said Kableh.

As she tries to cross a busy intersection, Angie Kableh says she hopes more Liberian women will follow suit.

"Women soldiers will be able to stand for the women and the children of the country and the nation," added Kableh. "They are not too aggressive as the men."

Singh says just like men, female peacekeepers have to be physically and mentally fit. She says her predecessors were right in telling her this assignment would be easy.

"The only thing of advice I got from them was taking care of the health, because we have a lot of diseases here," said Singh. "Nothing about duties. In India, we are performing much harder duties than what we are doing in Monrovia, so when it comes to the duties there is absolutely no problem. But in context to health, yes, we have to be cautious about it."

One thing Singh misses is easy access to ingredients here to make good Indian food. But, the all-female unit does have a few male cooks helping with that.

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