Secretary-General António Guterres lauded 32-year-old Military Gender Advisor Steplyne Nyaboga who served in the recently completed UN-African Hybrid Union Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), for the excellence of her work, for which she was awarded the 2021 UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year 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”, Mr. Guterres added.
Mainstreaming gender dimensions
Reflecting on her peacekeeping role, Major Nyaboga said that she was “elated” that the UN’s efforts in serving humanity have had a positive impact and were being recognized.
“Peacekeeping is a human enterprise: placing women and girls at the centre of our efforts and concerns, will help us better protect civilians and build a more sustainable peace”, she said.
Major Nyaboga deployed to the UNAMID mission in February 2019. Throughout her two years in Zalingei, a town in western Sudan, she worked diligently to mainstream gender issues in military activities by bringing awareness to dynamics in the field.
Specifically, she encouraged gender-sensitive outreach to local communities, to enhance civilian protection. She also focused on gender education for other military peacekeepers, training nearly 95 per cent of the UNAMID’s military contingent by December of last year.
Additionally, she advised the force on how to better identify and integrate the needs of vulnerable men, women, boys and girls 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, the Major also organized campaigns and workshops for staff and civil society activists to address issues affecting Darfuri women and girls.
Awarding gender actions
Created in 2016, the UN “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” recognizes the dedication and efforts of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of the landmark UN Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in a peace operation context.
Peacekeeping is a human enterprise — Major Nyaboga
Nominated by Heads and Force Commanders of UN peace operations, Major Nyaboga is the first Kenyan peacekeeper to receive the prestigious accolade.
It will be awarded to her during a ceremony online, presided over by the Secretary-General on Thursday, International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
“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”, said the UN chief.