At the head of the MINUSMA police, General Boughani hopes to arouse vocations among other women


It was her work as an internal security officer at the permanent representation of France to the United Nations that made her want to see the field.

Leading a police component (UNPOL) of 1,920 people currently, she explained to the microphone of UN info how proud she is of the work she does and the immense happiness she feels when she transmits her expertise for the implementation implementation of the mission’s mandate. “For me, it is an immense pleasure to serve the United Nations and to serve the maintenance of international peace and security”.

Excerpts from the conversation UN News had with General Boughani.

UN News: Ms. Bettina Patricia Boughani, you are the Police Commissioner of MINUSMA and it has been a little over a year since you joined the Mission. Is there a good parity between men and women within the police component?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: In accordance with the mandate of MINUSMA, UNPOL MINUSMA is composed of 1,920 personnel, 345 individual police officers and 11 formed police units, commonly referred to as FPU. So that brings me to a total of 1920. And we’re often around 1800.

Regarding the number of women, we are at a little less than 25% of female personnel at the level of individual police officers and we are at approximately 13% at the level of female personnel who serve in formed police units. We have a project right now called the Elsie initiative to increase the number of women in formed police units through logistics, so improving or supporting women’s accommodation. The idea is to bring in and deploy more female personnel.

UN News: How do you see the impact of women on the effectiveness of MINUSMA? Do you think the mission needs more women?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: I think that the presence of female blue helmets makes it possible to approach the population a little more easily and I am thinking of women and young people with regard to the cultural context, with regard to certain exchanges. That’s really the first point. The 2nd point is also through female police officers, gendarmes, soldiers as well, who are blue helmets, this makes it possible, in my opinion, to demonstrate that women can carry out a security mission and perhaps allow young people girls who perhaps dream of being a police officer or a gendarme or a soldier, of demonstrating that it is possible. I think that’s really important. I am also lucky within UNPOL to have a certain number of police officers, gendarmes, men or women, who come from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). They are French-speaking and also speak different languages ​​and it is really a source of wealth to approach the populations. MINUSMA continues to work tirelessly on increasing the number of women. Women are also 50% of the population and therefore MINUSMA takes this into account and we, for example, at UNPOL, are working on the Elsie initiative project to increase the number of women.

UN News: And you personally by being a female Police Commissioner within the mission, what do you bring to your colleagues, both men and women?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: For me it is always a difficult question because I believe that leadership is not gendered. I think you have to have a good professional experience. You have to be available, you have to have the will and I think you have to have common sense. But in any case for me, if I could arouse female vocations, I would be delighted.

UN News: If some young people or some women want or are thinking of becoming Blue Helmets, or working in different missions, what would be your suggestions?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: If women wish to join the Blue Helmets or join the forces of order in their country, I would say to them: quite simply dare. It is really very important. Prepare them physically, prepare them intellectually for the hardships, if there are hardships, and then just go for it. You have to believe in yourself and so I tell them, believe and believe in yourself.


Major General Bettina Patricia Boughani joined the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in January 2021.

UN News: Is it difficult for you to be away from France? Is it trying to be on a mission when there are difficult times?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: I would say that I am proud to demonstrate that you can be a woman, you can be a police officer or a gendarme and you can be abroad and all that is not contradictory. That is really something important. Today, there are all kinds of means of communication to interact with his family. Above all, I would say that no matter what level of responsibility you are at, you always feel immense happiness when you can pass on your expertise for the implementation of a mandate or something else. So for me, it is an immense pleasure to serve the United Nations and to serve the maintenance of international peace and security.

UN News: Did you join peacekeeping only recently?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: I arrived in January 2021. I had a rich career within the institution of the French gendarmerie. I had operational commanders, I did training, I did international work and then I also worked in the cabinet, so the staff part. I was lucky, I was in charge of the internal security mission at the permanent representation of France to the United Nations, which allowed me to follow the work of the police division in particular. And what interested me is, I saw the doctrine, I saw the debates and I wanted to see the field. So that was also another facet. And to implement the doctrine, and it’s always difficult to implement the doctrine, the strategy. But I wanted to live this field command and I am delighted to have been selected and to live it and to live this command currently.

UN News: Mrs. Bettina Patricia Boughani, on this Day of Blue Helmets, do you have a message?

Bettina Patricia Boughani: I am thinking of the blue helmets, telling them to live their mission intensely. It is an unforgettable experience and a personal enrichment. So live your mission and bring your expertise for the success, the fulfillment of the mandate and for our primary mission, the protection of civilians for us here in Mali.

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