Training gender advisors and focal points in the Central African Republic (CAR) earned a Brazilian United Nations peacekeeper a special gender advocate award.
Secretary-General António Guterres bestowed naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Marcia Andrade Braga, with the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award during the 2019 Peacekeeping Ministerial conference at UN Headquarters in New York today.
“UN Missions need more women peacekeepers so local women can talk more freely about the issues that affect their lives,” Braga said.
“I am proud to be selected”, she said, on receiving news of the award Braga also expressed gratitude to her colleagues in the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Serving as military gender advisor at MINUSCA headquarters since last year, Braga has helped build a network of trained gender advisors and focal points among Mission military units and promoted mixed teams of men and women to conduct community-based patrols around the country.
These “engagement teams” are able to gather critical information to help understand the unique protection needs of men, women, boys and girls. This, in turn helped develop community projects to support vulnerable communities.
Projects include installation of water pumps close to villages, solar-powered lighting and development of community gardens to cut down distances women travel to tend their crops.
Braga is a driving force behind MINUSCA leadership’s engagement with local women leaders, making sure the voices of Central African women are heard at all times during the ongoing peace process.
As a former teacher she has helped train and raise awareness among her peers on gender dynamics in the Mission.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who heads the UN Department of Peace Operations, said: “Marcia is a stellar example of why we need more women in peacekeeping. Peacekeeping works effectively when women play meaningful roles and when women in host communities are directly engaged”.
Created in 2016, the UN award recognises dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It emphasises the “3 Ps” – prevent conflict; protect women and their rights during and after conflict and increase the number of women in all mechanisms preventing and resolving conflict.