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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
All Girl Squad

Indian female peacekeeping force
All Girl Squad
Thursday 21 June 2007
1900 BST on BBC Two

This World meets the first all-female unit of United Nations peacekeepers, who have been based in Liberia for six months.

Do women make better soldiers, especially in war torn countries?

As a trial, the UN recently deployed a unit of Indian women to be the first ever all-female peacekeeping force in the West African country in Liberia.

The women are part of India's Central Reserve Police Force, and were hand picked from across the country for this mission.

They are experts in crowd control and veterans of many conflicts in India, including Kashmir and fighting in the north-east of India.

Indian female peacekeeping force
The 105-strong paramilitary police unit patrols the streets of Monrovia
The highly-trained and fully-armed paramilitaries arrived in the capital, Monrovia, in January for six months.

Conflict in Liberia

Liberia is recovering from 14 years of civil war during which child soldiers roamed the streets and sexual violence was common.

Today the presence of thousands of peacekeepers keeps it stable, but rape is still a major problem.

The UN is experimenting with all female units because female soldiers are seen as less threatening and more approachable in post conflict situations, where populations are recovering from years of violence and fear.

In Liberia this is of particular importance because the country has experienced an epidemic of sexual violence against women.

But will the presence of armed Indian women patrolling the streets empower local women, or will the culture shock the Indian women face - in their first visit out of India - stop them from interacting with local Liberians?

This World accompanies the women on their mission.

If they are a success, they could be the first of many women soldiers to wear the famous UN blue helmets.

Producer: Shabnam Grewal
Executive Producer: Louise Norman
This World Editor: Karen O'Connor


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