29 May is the International Day of UN Peacekeepers - a day to pay tribute to our uniformed and civilian personnel. As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we will profile female peacekeepers and hear them tell their stories in their own words.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Sandra Amissah, a Ghanaian national. I have the rare combinations of being a police nurse and a journalist. I began my career at the Ghana Police Hospital as a nurse, but a few years ago, I was drawn to the journalism space. Outside the office, I’m an avid reader and I love to swim. I’m a mother of three boys.
What are your responsibilities in Darfur and what is your typical day like?
In my current role as the Gender Officer for Jebel Marra State Liaison Function, my main responsibility is to facilitate the implementation of gender and child protection-related activities at the state level to improve service delivery through coordination with the Sudan Police Force. I also monitor and follow up on Sexual and Gender-based Violence related cases and encourage the locals to report such cases to the authorities. In collaboration with my colleagues, I also compile and send the daily situation Report.
How long have you been a UN peacekeeper and how did you become one?
I joined the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 22 July 2018 and I have served in various capacities to date. I went through the UN Selection Assistance and Assessment Team (SAAT) process in my country and completed successfully before being deployed to Sudan.
In UNAMID, I started as a patrol officer then became the Police Public Information Officer as an Editor and Writer at the mission’s headquarters. Currently, I am the State Liaison Function Gender Officer since 21 December 2019.
What did your family and friends back home think about your decision to leave your country and work for a UN peacekeeping mission?
My family is very supportive of my work despite the unavoidable physical separation from them. They encourage me to bring my expertise to bear and they strongly believe that I can help restore peace in Darfur.
What three things do you like most about the mission and the country you are currently serving in?
Sudanese people are naturally warm, with cultural diversity. I find Sudan a good place for learning and networking.
What part of your job do you find most challenging and why?
Sometimes I am limited in my work by natural occurrences such as sandstorm and heavy rains. These can sometimes interfere with our work plans for the day.
Do you think female peacekeepers serve as role models for the local population?
Yes, female peacekeepers are role models, especially in male-dominated societies. We inspire women and girls to believe in themselves and know that they can attain whatever height they aspire to go and for men to believe in women. In this light, women and girls must push for their rights and participate in peace processes.
What would you say to others considering a career in peacekeeping?
It is a privilege to serve humanity ̶ the feeling is unimaginable. I encourage female soldiers to join the UN family, to serve as role models to the women and girls and to enhance their capacity as well.