UN honors Indian peacekeeper who served in South Sudan | Latest India News
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane hailed the achievements of a female Indian army officer who was awarded the title of United Nations Military Defender for Gender Equality of the Year Award 2019 for his role as a peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) last year.
Major Suman Gawani, who is part of the Signals Corps, received the award from Guterres during an online ceremony hosted by the New York-based UN headquarters on May 29 on the International Day of United Nations peacekeepers, an army spokesman said.
Gawani, who was deployed to South Sudan last year, is currently stationed in New Delhi. The UN first awarded the award to a female peacekeeper in 2016 for “integrating a gender perspective into peacekeeping activities”.
The Indian officer received the award along with Brazilian Navy Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo.
“I am proud to announce that Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo of Brazil and Major Suman Gawani of India have received the Military Gender Advocate Award. Their @UNPeacekeeping contributions underscore how vital female peacekeepers are to peace and security everywhere,” the UN Secretary-General tweeted.
India is one of the largest contributors of personnel to UN peacekeeping operations and women have served in foreign missions in different capacities.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country to emerge from Sudan in July 2011, represents the Indian Army’s second largest deployment on foreign soil with over 2,300 Indian troops deployed there. Major Gawani served as a military observer in the mission from November 2018 to December 2019.
“Gender is becoming relevant, especially in places plagued by conflict. Women and children being more vulnerable are the most affected in such situations. UNMISS is making every effort to deploy more and more female peacekeepers in prominent roles such as military observers and contingents so that they can penetrate deeper into the community and bring a sense of security to survivors of the conflict,” Major Gawani said in a video. message broadcast by the army.
“While she was in the mission, she was the main point of contact for gender issues for the military observers in the mission. The officer encouraged participation in joint military patrols to maintain gender balance, regardless of the difficulties encountered in the extreme conditions on the ground. She visited various mission team sites across South Sudan to integrate gender perspective into mission planning and military activity,” the military said in a statement.
“General MM Naravane #COAS congratulates Major Suman Gawani on receiving the prestigious United Nations Military Gender Advocate Award (2019). Major Suman received the award in an online ceremony chaired by United Nations Secretary General António Guterres,” the army tweeted on Saturday.
Major Gawani was selected to undergo specialized training on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in Nairobi and has also participated in various United Nations forums to demonstrate how a gender lens can help protect civilians, especially against CRSVs, a spokesperson said.
“In addition to supporting UNMISS force initiatives, she also trained South Sudan government forces on aspects related to CRSV. The officer also commanded the UN Peacekeepers Day Parade held at UNMISS,” he said.