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2015 Marsh Award for ‘Innovation in peacemaking and peacekeeping’ presented to gender based violence adviser


By dxw

Devanna de la Puente, Inter-agency Regional Emergency Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Advisor for Asia and the Pacific was presented with the 2015 Marsh Award by British Ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent. Devanna was chosen as this year’s winner in recognition of her dedication and advocacy work in the prevention of gender based violence in situations of disaster and conflict in the region.

She has worked at the centre of emergency responses to disasters to ensure that women and girls are protected, most recently in Nepal following the devastating earthquake, after cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Devanna also works in environments of ongoing conflict and communal violence to ensure that gender is at the heart of efforts to restore peace – working in Myanmar, in the protracted crises in Pakistan, and with similar extensive support in Afghanistan.

The Marsh Christian Trust, in association with Wilton Park, has created this Marsh Award to recognise an individual from outside the UK whose work makes an innovative difference to areas of conflict and peacemaking.

Marsh Award presentation
Marsh Award presentation

Colleagues from many agencies joined Embassy Staff and Jo Childs, Wilton Park Communications Director at the presentation.

Devanna would like to use the £1,000 Marsh Award honorarium to support the New Light project in India where she first volunteered. The contribution will be given directly for one of the girls who is part of the adolescents at social risk programme, for her to complete her education, as Devanna believes education and opportunities are one of the best prevention to GBV and to empower women. The girl in question is part of the Soma programme of New Light, and is an orphan, the daughter of a woman who was a sex worker in the red light district in Kolkata, who passed away six years ago. She has been attending an English medium school and lives in one of New Light’s facilities. She is currently studying in Standard VI and performs well at school and is interested in music and design.

The New Light organisation works in the red light districts of Kolkata promoting education, health care and information for sex workers and their children. Devanna was particularly moved by the organisation’s ability to provide a better future and opportunities, particularly for young girls rescued or at risk of trafficking, to live away from violence and be a change to their own community. We are delighted that Devanna is using the Marsh Award so positively.

As an Inter-Agency adviser, Devanna brings together policy and people of the many different organisations involved in international crises. Having been based in Thailand since 2012, she has worked across many UN agencies here, including the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), OCHA, UNICEF, and with other regionally focused organisations including Wilton Park partners, the Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC). Wilton Park Director of Programmes, Robin Hart, nominated Devanna for the Marsh Award for Innovation in peacemaking and peacekeeping, after hearing her very moving presentation at our event on Disaster risk reduction meeting that was held in Manila last November.

The 2014 Marsh Award was presented to Elizabeth Angok, Regional Director of Mother and the Child Care Organisation in Juba, for her work in the protection, prevention and securing health assistance and justice for victims of sexual violence in South Sudan.

Further information

2015 Marsh Award for peacemaking and peacekeeping

Related events

Disaster prevention, preparedness and response in Southeast Asia: maximising a gender-inclusive approach (2014)

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