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Kenyan peacekeeper bags UN military gender advocate award

A Kenyan peacekeeper who recently completed her assignment in Sudan’s Darfur region is the winner of the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for 2020, the United Nations secretary-general’s press office has announced.

Maj. Steplyne Nyaboga, 32, who served in the recently ended UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), will receive the award at a virtual ceremony on Thursday.

Throughout her two-year deployment in Darfur, Nyaboga worked diligently to mainstream gender in military components by bringing awareness to gender dynamics in the field, said the press office.

She specifically encouraged gender-sensitive outreach to local communities, in an effort to enhance the protection of civilians. She also focused on gender training for her fellow military peacekeepers.

She advised the force on how to better identify and integrate the needs of men, women, boys, and girls groups in vulnerable contexts into UNAMID’s analysis, planning, and operations, a move that greatly improved the mission’s understanding of and response to protection needs.

Working together with human rights, gender, and communications colleagues, Nyaboga also organized campaigns and workshops for staff and civil society activists to address issues affecting Darfuri women and girls.

Secretary-General António Guterres commended Major Nyaboga for her award.

“Peace and security can only be achieved and sustained if all members of society have equal opportunities, protection, access to resources and services and can participate in decision-making,” he said.

“Through her efforts, Major Nyaboga introduced new perspectives and increased awareness of crucial gender dimensions across the Mission and helped strengthen our engagement with Darfuri women. The United Nations remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that women sit at the political table and make their full contributions to peace, and Major Nyaboga’s dedication has advanced the vital clause,” he added.

Created in 2016, the United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” recognizes the dedication and efforts 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 UN peace operations.

This is the first time that a Kenyan peacekeeper has received this prestigious award.