PRETORIA, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has congratulated major Seitebatso Pearl Block of the Army’s 43rd Brigade for winning the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.

“One cannot but salute Major Block for her hard work and dedication while serving in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). Her commitment to the protection of civilians, especially women and children, has been inspiring. As a peace and goodwill ambassador in her own right, she is an epitome of what every member of the SANDF (South African National Defence Force) should be,” said the Minister.

The award recognizes the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles within the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

The award will be bestowed on Major Block Wednesday at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial (UNPKDM) Conference being held in Vancouver, Canada. The conference is the largest gathering of defence ministers dedicated to UN peacekeeping matters.

Major Block has been an officer since 2007 and has been deployed twice to the DRC under the leadership of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). Her first deployment was in 2010 as an Information Operations Officer. When she was deployed again in 2016, she also served as a Force Intervention Brigade Planner.

She is hailed for developing a number of strategic projects adopted and launched by MONUSCO. During her tenure as an Information Operations Officer, she worked closely with different MONUSCO sections such as Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Re-integration, Resettlement (DDRRR), UN Mine Action Services (UNMAS), Protection of Civilians (PoC) and Gender and Child Protection. She was also instrumental in the implementation of a project aimed at reaching out and disseminating information to women’s organizations in far-flung areas of the DRC.

The Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant-General Lindile Yam, is leading the South African delegation attending the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in Vancouver on behalf of the Minister.