International Women’s Day Peacekeeper Profile: Evelyn Maweu
Major Evelyn Maweu from Kenya joined UNAMID as a Gender Officer in 2017. A trained physiotherapist working with the Kenya Defence Forces, this is Evelyn’s first experience in peacekeeping. Here, she speaks about how working as a Gender Officer has opened up new avenues of professional and personal growth for her.
Q: Why did you opt for peacekeeping as a career?
A: I was nominated by my country to serve with the United Nations. Kenya usually deploys a large number of female peacekeepers to UN missions across the world and I am honored to be one of them.
Q: In your opinion, what is the impact of your work as a UN peacekeeper?
A: I am currently deployed as a Gender Officer. Being trained in a medical field, actively working with gender issues was a departure from the norm for me. My job involves sensitizing fellow peacekeepers on gender-mainstreaming and gender equality as mandated by UNSCR 1325 and subsequent Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. I ensure that military personnel deployed to UNAMID are conceptually clear about topics such as gender equity and equality, gender balance and mainstreaming, which are key issues for the United Nations. Seamlessly integrating gender perspectives into the work of UNAMID personnel, I believe, is perhaps my greatest contribution here, especially since I didn’t have any formal background in gender.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing we can do to ensure that women in conflict situations are safe from sexual and gender-based violence?
A: I believe that capacity-building, especially in terms of income-generating activities, goes a long way in empowering women. Many Darfuri women serve as primary breadwinners for the family. The risks they face, including gender-based violence, will be reduced if their skill level is increased through appropriate training programmes. Such capacity-building initiatives should be coupled with continuing sensitization efforts.
Female peacekeepers have a huge role to play when it comes to sensitizing women on gender-based violence. I have noticed that local women feel more comfortable discussing such issues with female peacekeepers, who are role models for the communities they serve.