Nigerien army officer, Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka, has won the first UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for her service with the United Nations Mission in Mali between 2014 and 2015.
The award recognises her dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles within the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
The Resolution 1325, passed in October 2000 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts.
Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka was presented the award by UK’s Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Joyce Anelay, at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London on Wednesday.
2016 marks the first year the award will be given out. The selection process for a recipient began in 2015 when the Office of Military Affairs, which sits within the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in the United Nations, requested Force Commanders and Heads of Mission from all DPKO peacekeeping missions to nominate a military peacekeeper whom they felt had best integrated a gender perspective into peacekeeping activities. – United Nations
Who is Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka?
Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka is a forty-year old wife and mother of three who is a graduate of social affairs from the Niger Military Academy. She lives in Niger’s capital Niamey.
Major Issaka served as a Captain with the Nigerien contingent in Mali as part of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) between 2014 and 2015.
She served in the civilian-military cooperation cell in the city of Gao and integrated the principles of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 into the daily work of her Force and Sector Headquarters.
Much of her time was spent developing quick impact projects that aided the local population.
She also spent considerable time training fellow staff officers and reaching out to local women, thus strengthening ties between the UN and the host community.
Major Issaka also accompanied what would have been an all-male patrols thus making them more approachable and accessible to the women and children in Gao.