An Indian peacekeeper, who has recently completed her assignment in South Sudan, and a Brazilian peacekeeper serving in the Central African Republic have been selected to receive the 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.

Major Suman Gawani of the Indian Army, a Military Observer formerly deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer working in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) will receive the award during an online ceremony presided over by UN Secretary-General António Guterres marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May.

This is the first year that the prestigious award has gone to an Indian peacekeeper and the second year in a row that a Brazilian peacekeeper has won it, the UN Information Centre in India said.

Created in 2016, the United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” recognises the dedication and effort of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in a peace operation context, as nominated by Heads and Force Commanders of peace operations. For the first time, two peacekeepers will receive the award jointly for their contribution to this important cause.

Major Gawani expressed gratification at seeing her work as UN Military Observer recognised. “Whatever our function, position or rank, it is our duty as peacekeepers to integrate an all genders perspective into our daily work and own it”, she noted, “in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities”.

Since her deployment to UNMISS in December 2018, Major Gawani mentored over 230 UN Military Observers (UNMO) on conflict-related sexual violence and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the mission’s team sites. By providing support, mentoring, guidance and leadership, she helped to create enabling environment for UN Peacekeepers. She also trained the South Sudanese government forces and helped them to launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence.