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Meet Vietnam's First-Ever Female UN Peacekeeper in South Sudan

In just a few days, Vietnam’s first-ever female United Nations (UN) peacekeeper will depart from Hanoi for her mission in South Sudan.

As VOV reports, Major Do Thi Hang Nga is the latest peacekeeper from Vietnam to serve UN’s peacekeeping force overseas. The officer will be a staff officer tasked with overseeing military operations in South Sudan for one year.

Vietnam has been part of the UN initiative for three years, having sent 20 officers so far to Central Africa and South Sudan. Nga will be the country’s 20th and first female officer.

According to Colonel Hoang Kim Phung, Director of the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre, the Southeast Asian country is working on establishing the second-level field hospital in South Sudan. The medical facility will employ 70 officers, both male and female.

"The UN has encouraged Vietnam to send more female officers in order to increase the numbers of female staff in UN peacekeeping missions,” Phung told the news source. “Vietnam’s dispatch of the first female officer and [its] plan to send nine more to [second-level field] hospital in South Sudan show the country’s active participation in UN peacekeeping activities.”

Born in 1981, Nga majored in information technology at a university in Hanoi. She enrolled in the army in 2004 and became an officer in 2012, reports VnExpress. At the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre, she’s tasked with maintaining the organization’s website and LAN network.

However, throughout her time at the center, her superiors discovered that Nga also has a knack for international affairs and nominated her for the South Sudan mission. Thus began a year-long training period where she was sent to countries all over the world to hone special skills.

“When I received the mission, I did some research and found out that South Sudan is a poor nation with a lot of instability,” Nga told the news source. “I was worried about what to do in a multinational, multicultural environment and what to do to get into the work flow as fast as possible.”

Despite initial preservations, Nga has spent the past year preparing herself for the role by improving her English skill and convincing her family to let her participate in the dangerous mission.

“For a peacekeeping role, they don’t distinguish between female and male [officers]. My tasks will the same as my male coworkers’,” she said. “I will not refuse anything within my capabilities because I want to build a good image of the Vietnamese soldier.”

Do Thi Hang Nga is married with two children: one in 4th grade and one in 6th grade. As the UN post allows 2.5 vacation day per month, she plans to use them all for a trip home next summer.

[Top photo via VnExpress]

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