From where I stand: Maruti Joshi
When I joined the Indian police force in 1997, I was the first and only female officer in a batch of 35 male officers. I was doing routine police work then. In 2011, I got an opportunity to join a new United Nations Mission in South Sudan. I went to Juba for a year. As police peacekeepers, we were mentoring and training the local police there on handling violence cases. My unit dealt with women and children, and other vulnerable people affected by violence. There were a lot of challenges because the country was in the process of conflict resolution. I had to drive alone and sometimes it was late in the evening. You feel unsafe because you are not armed—anything can happen.
Despite these challenges, I had a good experience in Juba because a very beautiful thing happened. As soon as I joined the mission, there were a few female peacekeepers and we created an all-women’s network to share our experiences. For peacekeepers, it's very difficult to leave your family behind. It's not only the family that needs us, but it's the other women, for whom we are role models. Women play an extremely important role in conflict situations, especially since women and children are the most affected. Through the network and my unit, we also acted as a channel between local women police officers and their authorities, since some faced some trouble and were not always safe.
I have a one-year-old daughter now, so have now opted for an office posting. I am currently a Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) at Police Headquarters in Jaipur. I also lead workshops on gender mainstreaming and budgeting. For the last year, I've been working with UN Women on an induction-training programme for female military officers that are supposed to be deployed to peacekeeping missions. When I went on mission, I didn't have any specific gender-oriented pre-deployment training. We [now] train them to handle violence against women in a conflict situation before they leave. I feel very honoured and happy that I connect with women working [in this field]. It's something very close to my heart—a passion!”
Maruti Joshi, 43, from Jaipur, India, has worked as a police officer for 18 years and served as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan. Ms. Joshi is currently working with UN Women to train women peacekeepers to address sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. Her work is connected to the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 5, which includes ending all forms of violence against women and girls, and SDG 16, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.