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"As a female peacekeeper, it is easy to connect with people"

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"As a female peacekeeper, it is easy to connect with people"

— Lt Col Martha Masango from South Africa, serving in the DRC
12 June 2020
-Lieutenant Colonel Martha Masango, serving in the DR Congo
-Lieutenant Colonel Martha Masango, serving in the DR Congo

Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Lt Col Martha Masango. I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the South African National Defence Force.

I am Chief of the Intelligence Cell of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).

What are your responsibilities in this mission and what is your typical day like?

I prepare and conduct intelligence briefings. On Tuesdays, during the FIB intelligence briefing, the FIB Commander will discuss patrols and visits, which I then participate in.

How long have you been a UN peacekeeper and how did you become one?

I arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 28 December 2019 and here in Beni (northeastern DRC), on 16 January 2020.

I wanted to be in peacekeeping so, I wrote a letter and requested to deploy as a UN Staff Officer. I took part in the selection process and managed to qualify for the post.

What did your family and friends back home think about your decision to leave your country and work for a UN peacekeeping mission?

They took time to understand my reasons for being a UN peacekeeper and later came to accept and understand. They fully support me and think I am very brave to take such a decision.

What are three things you like most about the mission and the country?

I like the fact that women are given the opportunity to be in managerial positions. I also like the opportunity to meet with other women from the armed forces in DRC (FARDC) and the local population.

Lastly, I like to learn about other people’s culture, their food and way of living.

What part of your job do you find most challenging and why?

My work involves gathering information about armed groups and their locations. Besides the FIB sending out a patrol and meeting with the FARDC and key leaders, confirming that information is usually difficult.

Do you think female peacekeepers serve as role models for the local population?

Yes, female peacekeepers serve as role models. Children and women are always filled with so much joy when they meet female peacekeepers in uniform. It is easy to connect with local people because they understand we are here for them. We left our families and children to bring peace in their country.

What would you say to female soldiers considering a career in peacekeeping?

I would encourage every woman, even if it’s just once in their careers, to consider being a peacekeeper because it is an eye opener.