An Indian army officer, Major Suman Gawani, served as a peacemaker with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the year 2019.
Recently she has won the prestigious United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the year Award.
Since she has been a military observer in UNMISS from November 2018 to December 2019, major was the principal focal point of contact for gender issues for military observers in the mission.
The Indian Army said that she encouraged participation in joint military patrols to maintain gender balance, irrespective of the hardships under extreme field conditions. She also visited various mission team sites across South Sudan strived to integrate a gender perspective into the planning and military activity in the mission, the Army said.
Major Suman Gawani was also selected for attending a specialized training on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) at Nairobi and participated in various UN forums to demonstrate how a gender perspective can help in protecting civilians, especially from conflict-related sexual violence.
Later, South Sudan Government forces were also trained by her on CRSV related projects.
She has also commanded the UN UN Peacekeepers Day Parade which was organized at UNMISS. There she commanded twelve contingents comprising military personnel and even civilians.
Major Suman Gawani will share this award along with a Brazilian Naval Officer, Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo.
UN chief Antonio Guterres honored peacekeepers Major Suman Gawani from India and Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo from Brazil with the 2019 UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. He said their “inspiring work” promotes equality in the forces.
The award was bestowed to Major Gawani in a virtual ceremony, commemorating the International Day of Peacekeepers.
This is for the first when this prestigious award has been conferred to a peacekeeper from India.
Mr. Guterres even mentioned and highlighted the essential role played by women peacekeepers for the success of UN peace operations. The UN secretary-general said that their contributions are proof that women peacekeepers are vital to peace and security everywhere.
Four Indian peacekeepers and civilian personnel were among the 83 military, police and civilian personnel who were honored posthumously with the prestigious Dag Hammarskjöld Medal for their courage and sacrifice in the line of duty.
It was the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security this year.
“Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace” was the theme for the International Day of UN Peacekeepers this year.
Ambassador TS Tirumurti, who is India’s Permanent Representative to the UN said that Ms. Gawani “epitomizes, in many ways, the rich values of Indian peacekeepers.
He even honored India’s brave men and women for serving as peacekeepers selflessly in foreign lands to preserve international peace and security. He said in a video message that Indian peacekeepers had been at the forefront of all these efforts. He said that they were widely admired their bravery, professionalism, and selfless service.
In his words, “But India’s long-standing UN peacekeeping contribution has not come without cost. India has lost more peacekeepers than any other member state of the United Nations,”.