Major Suman Gawani hailing from the faraway Pokhar village in Tehri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand has made her motherland proud by being qualified by the United Nations for the Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award (2019) for her outstanding contributions as the first Indian and the first Indian woman to uphold the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The UN hailed Major Suman Gawani, while announcing the award, as one of the “powerful role models” who helped the anti-sexual violence campaign by “supporting, mentoring, guidance and leadership … to create enabling environment for UN Peacekeepers. “
As a mentor of more than 230 UN Military Observers on conflict caused sexual violence, Major Gawani being a part of the Army Signal Corps, “also trained South Sudanese government forces and helped them in launching their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence.”
Gawani proudly claimed, “Whatever our function, position or rank, it is our duty as peacekeepers to integrate an all-genders perspective into our daily work and own it in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities.” She ensured that women military observers be present in each of the Mission’s team sites.
Major Suman Gawani who joined the Indian Army, after completing her schooling in Uttarkashi and graduating from the Officers Training Academy, will be sharing her award with the Brazilian Naval Officer Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29th May 2020 in an online conferring ceremony. The ceremony which was supposed to take place in New York has been shifted to an online platform in view of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Created in 2016, the award honours the dedication and contribution of individual military peacekeepers in promoting the UN principles on Women, Peace, and Security in Peace Operations, and it is for the first time in UN history that an Indian and that too, an Indian Woman will be bestowed with such a prestigious award, for it is easy to start a war, but quite difficult to end it and maintain peace, order and serenity.