June 10, 2023

The 2022 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award will be given to a Ghanaian peacekeeper working with the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei, Sudan (UNISFA).

Captain Cecilia Erzuah, 32, who has served as the Commander of the Ghana Engagement Platoon in Abyei since March 2022, will receive the honor from Secretary-General António Guterres during an event marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

The United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” was established in 2016 to recognize an individual military peacekeeper’s dedication and efforts in advancing the values of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

“Resolution 1325 reminds us that our female peacekeepers are contributing to more than just global peace and security.” They are setting the example. Captain Cecilia Erzuah of Ghana is one of those leaders by any standard,” said Secretary-General António Guterres.

“On every front, Captain Erzuah’s work has set the standard for ensuring that the needs and concerns of women are reflected across all of our peacekeeping operations.”

Captain Erzuah expressed her appreciation for being chosen to receive the medal, which she referred to as “an award for all of us,” referring to her platoon mates.

Capt. Erzuah, a strong supporter of gender equality and community participation, ensured that her 22-man platoon, made up equally of men and women, performed regular patrols and reached out to local leaders, as well as women’s and youth groups, to better understand and solve community problems and needs.

She also sponsored discussions on domestic violence, gender equality, and childcare with civilian UN colleagues.

These discussions led to an increase in the number of women serving on Community Protection Committees, which were previously dominated by men.

Engagement with community people resulted in improved early warning about dangers to civilians and broader security challenges.

Her battalion’s monthly market excursions also contributed to the development of solid and long-lasting ties between traders, local inhabitants, and the UN.

Following a spike in community violence in Majbong, a village in southeast Abyei, in January 2023, Captain Erzuah’s battalion increased its presence, checking on the plight of displaced persons in the hazardous area and allowing the Mission to provide the required help.

Community members who had sought refuge from the violence in the nearby woods began gradually returning to their village houses, and ladies reported feeling more safer.

“The mixed patrols are (…) increasing community members’ confidence to go about their daily activities safely,” said Deng Paul Mankuol, a traditional leader in Majbong.

Captain Erzuah is the first Ghanaian peacekeeper to receive this coveted honor, as well as the first recipient from a contingent or unit.

Ghana is now the highest supplier of female military peacekeepers to the UN, with 375 currently deployed.

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