Cambodia wants to increase the number of female peacekeepers under the UN peacekeeping mission to 20 per cent by 2024 from 14 per cent, according to UN Women Asia and the Pacific (UNW APAC).

In a statement on April 28, UNW APAC said Elsie Initiative Fund for Uniformed Women in Peace Operations (EIF) will fund a study focusing on the barriers faced by women in taking part in UN peacekeeping operations.

Cambodia stands at the 25th spot in the world with 766 military personnel serving UN peacekeeping operations in nine countries.

“Fourteen per cent of that consists of women. As the percentage is low compared to men, Cambodia is committed to improve gender equality by increasing the number of [female] personnel to 20 per cent by 2024,” UNW APAC said.

The EIF study project will look at the obstacles as well as opportunities faced by women in the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces, where peacekeepers are recruited.

The working group of the project will comprise representatives from the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces and the ministries of National Defense, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Women’s Affair.

“Results and recommendations from the project will [facilitate] policy formulations and institutional reforms to address the barriers and promote meaningful participation,” it said.

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn said Cambodia has transformed from being a host to UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) into an active contributor of troops in peacekeeping missions in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Since 2006, Cambodia has sent 8302 peacekeepers, including 580 women, for UN missions in nine countries.

The government promotes women in leadership, peace and security roles, Sokhonn was quoted as saying in the statement.

Sarah Knibbs, officer-in-charge of UNW APAC, said the project supports Cambodia’s effort to increase women’s participation in peace operations, a concrete example of multilateralism in action.

Cambodia’s commitment also coincides with its role and priority as the chair of ASEAN this year, which is focused on advancing the women, peace and security agenda.

“I believe it will also have a positive spillover effect in ASEAN and hopefully inspire other member states,” Knibbs said.