Zimbabwe’s Emma Madziva has been honoured with a United Nations medal, recognising her peacekeeping work in South Sudan’s Unity area.

“It shows how hard we have worked in this place [South Sudan],” she says, referring to various tasks she has been engaged in over the last eight months in Africa’s youngest country. 

“I was working as a patrols officer before, but I now work on the gender desk, occupied in resolving issues around domestic violence, early and forced marriages, rapes, and everything else that is classified under Gender Child and Vulnerable Persons Protection (GCVPP),” says Madziva.

“We work explaining to the people that various forms of violence against either gender and children does not only occur between husband and wife, but may extend to family members, neigbours and relatives,” she says. 

“Sometimes the victims [who come to us] cannot explain themselves. You only see them tearing up, and you know they are in some sort of pain,” says Madziva. “I feel pity for them, but we are able to help them resolve some of their problems,” says the 35-year-old, who is now a front-runner in the girl-child education amongst the displaced.

She says she is happy to have been able to compete with men to earn her stripes under her current role, which the United Nations globally encourages.