Zim army officer grateful for getting UN award

27 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Zim army officer grateful for getting UN award Major Winnet Zharare receives the 2021 UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award from the organisation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

The Herald

Herald Reporter

The United Nations yesterday honoured Zimbabwe’s Major Winnet Zharare, who received the 2021 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for promoting the principles of women, peace and security while serving in South Sudan.

She was honoured together with 117 other women and men, including three South African peacekeepers, who sacrificed their lives while serving as Blue Helmets under the UN flag in various peacekeeping missions globally.

UN Secretary-General Mr António Guterres also laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial at the UN Headquarters, marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Mr Guterres said UN peacekeepers faced great and growing challenges, including increasing political tensions and deteriorating security situations.

“Ever-more complex threats, from terrorist attacks to organised crime to Improvised Explosive Devices and a surge in mis-and disinformation that spreads hatred and fuels violence,” he said.

“Despite these risks, our peacekeepers press on. They work tirelessly in the toughest of conditions. They adapt to rapidly evolving situations on the ground and they constantly innovate to protect the most vulnerable, while representing our diverse global community.

“They advance the greatest mission of all, peace. I am so proud of their work.”

Speaking after being honoured, Major Zharare (38), said she was “humbly grateful for this award and the recognition for my service.

“I am certain that all nominees for this award were as capable, if not more, to be recognised today (yesterday) and receive this award.

“I would like to thank the Government of Zimbabwe for facilitating my deployment in South Sudan as a UN peacekeeper and the opportunity for me to work as the gender focal point for the military observers in Bentiu, Unity State.

“As a gender focal point, one works for our shared goal of gender equality. Gender equality entails equal opportunities for both men and women. The promotion of such equal opportunities was one of my primary responsibilities for both peacekeepers and the local communities that we serve and support.”

The theme of this year’s observance is, “People. Peace. Progress. The Power of Partnerships”.

Major Zharare was deployed to UNMISS in November 2020 and throughout her 17-month-long service, she advocated for gender parity and women’s participation, within her own ranks, among local military counterparts, and in host communities.

As the Chief Military Information Officer in the UNMISS Bentiu field office, she helped ensure that patrols included both women and men to improve protection efforts, as well as build trust between host communities and the mission.

The UN statement further reads that her efforts contributed to an increase in gender-aggregated data so that issues raised by local women and girls would gain appropriate attention.

Advocating for gender parity and women’s participation in an environment where they are traditionally excluded from decision-making, Major Zharare encouraged local civilian and military authorities and community representatives to involve both men and women in meetings with the United Nations.

Her diligence and diplomatic skills quickly gained her the trust of local military commanders who would systematically reach out to her on issues pertaining to women’s protection and rights.

During her patrols and numerous community engagement initiatives, Major Zharare also successfully encouraged men and women to work together in farming and in the construction of dikes around Bentiu town to alleviate food shortages and prevent further displacement.

Major Zharare was born in Mhondoro, to a family of five girls and two boys and was taught by her parents that there are no differences between gender roles in the home.

She began her military career in 2006 as a Second Lieutenant and deployed as an Infantry Platoon Commander, doubling as a matron, in Mutare that same year.

In 2009, she joined the logistics corps and completed the Junior Staff Course at the Zimbabwe Staff College and the Company Commanders’ Course at the All-Arms Battle School in 2014.

Major Zharare then worked as a Protocol Officer from 2015 to 2019, after which she was nominated for deployment in UNMISS as a Military Observer in Bentiu, fulfilling roles including Chief Information Officer, Training Officer and Gender Focal Point.

Her tour of duty ended in April 2022, and she is now back home.

The military gender advocate of the year award is underpinned by the principles outlined in United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and follow-on resolutions on women, peace and security.

The resolutions call on actors to mainstream a gender perspective in all aspects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding and to ensure women’s participation in peace and political processes.

They also call for the protection from, and prevention of, conflict-related sexual violence and for an expansion of the role and contribution of women in United Nations operations, including of uniformed women peacekeepers.

Share This:

Sponsored Links