A Nigerien captain, Aichatou Ousmane Issaka, who served with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), received the UN Award for Gender Advocate of the Year. "Captain Issaka has distinguished himself from her peers by constantly seeking to incorporate the principles of Security Council Resolution 1325 in her daily work with her troops and her sector headquarters," said the Department of United Nations Peace (DPKO) in a press release on Wednesday.
This is the first time this prize has been awarded. It recognizes the dedication and efforts of a member of the peacekeeping force in promoting the important role of women in the promotion of peace and security which are the principles of Security Council resolution 1325.
The selection process for the laureate began in 2015 when the Office of Military Affairs, housed in DPKO, asked commanders and heads of all UN peacekeeping missions to nominate a Blue Helmet who, according to them, had best integrated the gender perspective into peacekeeping activities. "We hope that the award will help raise the profile and understanding of what gender mainstreaming represents, in a military context, for United Nations peacekeeping missions," said DPKO.
While serving with MINUSMA, Captain Issaka worked in the civilian-military cooperation cell in Gao City, northern Mali. Much of her time has been spent developing projects that have a quick impact on the local population. She spent a lot of time training other officers and sensitizing women at the local level, thus strengthening the links between the UN and the host community.
Captain Issaka also accompanied patrols which, without her, would have been purely male, making them more approachable and accessible to Gao's women and children. Aged 42, Major Isaak has a degree in social affairs from the Military Academy of Niger. Captain Issaka is married with three children and lives in Niamey, the capital of Niger.