Ghanaian Peacekeeper Recognized as UN’s Military Gender Advocate of the Year

Accra, Ghana – Captain Cecilia Erzuah, a Ghanaian peacekeeper serving with the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA), has been honored with the prestigious title of the UN’s Military Gender Advocate of the Year for 2022. The announcement was made by the Department of Peace Operations, and Secretary-General António Guterres will present the award to Captain Erzuah during a ceremony commemorating the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Captain Cecilia Erzuah, 32, has been stationed in Abyei since March last year, commanding the Ghana Engagement Platoon. Abyei, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan, has been a focus of tension, and the deployment of UNISFA in 2011 aimed to facilitate peace and provide protection to civilians. UNISFA also supports the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of aid workers.

The Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, established in 2016, recognizes the exceptional dedication and efforts of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. Captain Erzuah’s selection for the award highlights her exemplary work in advancing gender equality and engaging with local communities.

Secretary-General António Guterres praised Captain Erzuah, stating that her actions set the standard for ensuring that the needs and concerns of women are integrated across peacekeeping operations. He emphasized the significant role women peacekeepers play in supporting global peace and security.

Captain Erzuah, humbled by the recognition, expressed gratitude and considered the award a collective achievement for her platoon members. She emphasized the importance of gender equality and community engagement. Under her leadership, the 22-strong platoon, consisting of an equal number of men and women, conducted regular patrols and engaged with local leaders, women’s groups, and youth organizations to address community concerns.

Captain Erzuah also facilitated discussions on crucial topics such as domestic violence, gender equality, and childcare, resulting in increased women’s participation in Community Protection Committees. These initiatives fostered better early warning systems for violence and improved security conditions for civilians. Additionally, the monthly market walks organized by her battalion strengthened relationships between traders, local residents, and the UN.

In January of this year, Captain Erzuah’s platoon intensified their presence in response to heightened community violence in Majbong village. Their efforts contributed to the return of displaced community members and a sense of improved safety for women. Captain Erzuah’s outstanding leadership and accomplishments make her the first Ghanaian peacekeeper and the first recipient from a contingent or unit to receive this esteemed award.

Ghana continues to make significant contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts, with 375 women military peacekeepers currently deployed, making it the largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations. Captain Cecilia Erzuah’s recognition further highlights Ghana’s commitment to promoting gender equality and peacekeeping efforts on the international stage.

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