Nepal’s UN Policewoman of the Year

Nepal’s Sangya Malla has been announced Woman Police Officer of the Year 2021 by the United Nations Department of Peace Operations. Malla is currently serving in the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

Malla currently serves as the Chief of the MONUSCO Police Health and Environment Unit, which she helped establish in the country’s capital, Kinshasa. The unit is responsible for implementing policies and procedures concerning the health and well-being of personnel as well as United Nations Police environmental initiatives.

Malla’s contributions during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and past outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have had a significant impact in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the volcanic eruption in Gola last May, her unit alerted the local population and UN staff of precautionary measures, preventing further losses.

“She helped establish and now leads MONUSCO’s Health and Environment Unit, enhancing the safety and welfare of our peacekeepers by mitigating the risks from Covid and other threats,” says United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who will be presenting the award virtually on 9 November.

He adds: “And she represents something far larger — the many contributions of women police officers in advancing peace and security around the world. Through her work, Superintendent Malla embodies the best of the United Nations.”

Malla is a medical professional by training and has helped develop guidelines to control the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region. In 2021, she organised over 300 awareness sessions on Covid prevention as well as environmental protection for the public, government officials and UN staff in Congo. As the MONUSCO Police’s focal point on Covid-19, she has also been actively disseminating information about the vaccines and promoting the vaccination drive.

Malla was previously with the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) from 2016 to 2017, where she was a member of the Formed Police Unit’s medical team. Before this, she got started by joining the Nepal Police in 2008 as an inspector.

“I am honoured to receive this award, and I hope it will encourage more young women in my country and around the world to pursue careers in policing, which is still too often viewed as “man’s work’,” said Malla.

The United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year award was set up ten years ago in 2011 to empower women and recognise the contribution of women police officers to UN peace operations.

Of some 7,300 UN police officers, 27% are women and are presently deployed in 14 different United Nations peace operations around the world. Through their work, they are enhancing international peace and security by supporting host countries in conflict, post-conflict and other crises.

“Like many peacekeepers during this challenging time amid the pandemic, Superintendent Malla has gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve local communities,” said United Nations Police Adviser Luis Carrilho. “Together with her team, her efforts to raise awareness about public health and natural risks have ultimately made her colleagues and the Congolese people safer—a core function of policing.”

Nepal, which began deploying peacekeepers from 1958 with a modest five military observers in Lebanon is now the second-largest troops contributing country to UN Missions. Over 135,000 personnel have since participated in the peacekeeping missions.

Of the total 5,717 Nepali blue helmets currently serving in 12 countries and territories including Congo, South Sudan, Western Sahara, Israel, Lebanon, Mali, Syria, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, 1,555 are women.

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