Major Suman Gawani, of the Indian Army has become the first Indian peacekeeper to win the UN Military Gender Advocate award as part of her UN peace keeping activities. She shares the award with Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo of Brazilian Navy.
The award constituted in 2016 is given for recognition for the dedication and effort of individual military peacekeepers in promoting the UN principles on Women. Peace and Security in peace operations.
Major Gawani is a military observer deployed in South Sudan. She has mentored over 230 UIN Military Observers on conflict related sexual violence, and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the Mission’s team sites. She is also credited with training South Sudanese government forces. She helped the Sudanese Government to launch their action plan on conflict related sexual violence.
Expressing happiness at getting the award, Major Gawani said “whatever our function, position or rank it is our duty peacekeepers to integrate an all-genders perspective into our daily work and own it, in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities.”
Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo serves as the military Gender and Protection Advisor in Central African Republic. She had held training on gender and protection and was instrumental in seeing the number of gender responsive patrols engaging with local communities increase from 574 to nearly 3,000 per month. “It’s very gratifying for me and the Mission to see that our initiatives are bearing fruit”, she said.
Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres congratulated the two officers and said that they were powerful role models: He said that the two had brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities