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Brazilian and Indian women peacekeepers jointly win the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year 2019 Award

New York, 26 May 2020 - A Brazilian peacekeeper serving in the Central African Republic and an Indian peacekeeper who has recently completed her assignment in South Sudan have been selected to receive the 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer working in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Major Suman Gawani of the Indian Army, a Military Observer formerly deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will receive the award during an online ceremony presided over by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on Friday, 29 May 2020. Created in 2016, the United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” recognizes 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.“This award is the recognition of the teamwork involving MINUSCA Force and civilian component”, said Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo upon receiving the news of her award. “It’s very gratifying for me and the Mission to see that our initiatives are bearing fruits”, she added. Major Gawani also expressed gratification at seeing her work as UN Military Observer recognized. “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”.  Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo has served as the military Gender and Protection Advisor in MINUSCA Force Headquarters since April 2019. During her tour of duty, she established and conducted a comprehensive training curriculum on aspects related to gender and protection. Through her efforts, the Mission significantly increased the number of gender and child protection focal points and their respective locations. She was instrumental in seeing gender-responsive patrols engaging with local communities increase from 574 to nearly 3,000 per month.

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.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres commended Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo and Major Gawani for their award. “These peacekeepers are powerful role models. Through their work, they have brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities we serve”, he said. “Through their commitment and innovative approaches, they embrace a standard of excellence that is an inspiration to all blue helmets everywhere. As we confront today’s challenges, their work has never been more important or relevant.” 

This is the second year in a row that a Brazilian peacekeeper has received this prestigious award and the first year it goes to a peacekeeper from India.


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About the awardees:

Commander Monteiro De Castro Araujo joined the Brazilian Navy Health Corps in 1997. She worked for more than ten years as an active practitioner dentist in the Navy Health Corps. For more than five years, she worked for the Navy expeditionary Medical Unit with an expertise in risk management and control and health support. She graduated from Staff college in 2012.

Major Suman Gawani joined the Indian Army in 2011 where she graduated from the Officers Training Academy, then joined the Army Signal Corps. She holds a Bachelor of Telecommunication Engineering and a Bachelor of Education from, respectively the Military College of Telecommunication, and the Government Post Graduate College in Dehradun, India.


Note to the editors:

The Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award is underpinned by the principles outlined in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) and follow-on resolutions on women, peace and security. The resolutions call on actors to mainstream a gender perspective in all aspects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding and to ensure women’s participation in peace and political processes. They also call for the protection from and prevention of conflict-related sexual violence and for an expansion of the role and contribution of women in UN operations, including of uniformed women peacekeepers.


6.4% of the 85,000 uniformed peacekeepers serving today in our missions are women, and this number is steadily increasing. The UN is working with Member States to increase the number and percentage of women military, police and justice and corrections personnel that they contribute to UN Peacekeeping, including through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. In this context, promoting the participation of women, both in peacekeeping and within the societies in which we serve, is at the centre of our efforts, in active partnership with Member States.


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Media contacts: 


Sophie Boudre

Department of Peace Operations

Tel.:  +1 (917) 691-5359 E-mail: boudre@un.org 


Douglas Coffman

Department of Global Communications

Tel.:  +1 (917) 361-9923 E-mail: coffmand@un.org 


Vladimir Monteiro (for requests regarding Commander Monteiro De Castro Araujo)

MINUSCA Spokesperson

Tel.: + 236 75980772 E-mail: monteiro6@un.org