United Nation General Secretary Antonio Guterres on Friday honoured peacekeepers Major Suman Gawani Major, an Indian Army officer and Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo from Brazil with the 2019 UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. Major Suman Gawani served as a women peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2019.The award ceremony took place at the UN Headquarters, New York on the occasion of International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
Major Suman served as a Military observer in UNMISS from November 2018 to December 2019. While at the mission, she was the principal focal point of contact for gender issues for Military Observers in the mission. The officer encouraged participation in joint military patrols to maintain gender balance, irrespective of the hardships under extreme field conditions. Six Indian Army Personnel Awarded Shaurya Chakra on Republic Day.
The Indian Army officer also visited various mission team sites across South Sudan to integrate gender perspective into the planning and military activity in the mission. The officer was selected to attend a specialised 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.
Tweet by The United Nations:
Working towards #peace as a military observer in South Sudan has been a life-changing experience. Serving under the #bluehelmet & wearing my country’s flag 🇮🇳on my uniform is a matter of pride, says Maj Suman Gawani, first Indian #Peacekeeper to win the @UN Gender Advocate Award pic.twitter.com/uj1Kd66xeT
— United Nations in India (@UNinIndia) May 29, 2020
Apart from supporting the UNMISS Force initiatives, she also trained the South Sudan government forces on CRSV related aspects. The officer also commanded the UN Peacekeepers Day Parade organised at UNMISS, where she commanded twelve contingents of UNPOL, Military and Civilians.
The UN also honoured Five Indian peacekeepers who died while serving in UN peacekeeping missions last year along with 78 military, police and civilian personnel, with UN Medal. The five Indian peacekeepers who were awarded with Dag Hammarskjold Medal posthumously, inlcude – Major Ravi Inder Singh Sandhu and Sergeant Lal Manotra Tarsem, who served with the UN Mission in South Sudan; Sergeant Ramesh Singh with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon; Private Johnsion Beck with the UN Disengagement Observer Force and Edward Agapito Pinto, who served in a civilian capacity with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in Congo.