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Indian peacekeeper Major Radhika Sen receives UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year honor

May 29, 2024 12:47 PM IST

Antonio Guterres | United Nations | Himachal Pradesh | Ruchira Kamboj | Major Radhika Sen | Democratic Republic of the Congo | MONUSCO

Major Radhika Sen, an Indian peacekeeper deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been named the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year for 2023. The prestigious award recognizes her outstanding service and efforts to empower local communities, especially women and girls, during her tour of duty from March 2023 to April 2024.

Serving with the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO as the Commander of the Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion in eastern DRC, Major Sen played a crucial role in establishing Community Alert Networks. These networks provided a platform for community leaders, young people, and women to voice their security and humanitarian concerns, which Major Sen and her colleagues at MONUSCO then worked to address.

In a volatile environment where many people, including women and children, were fleeing conflict, Major Sen led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities, earning the trust of the local population through her humility, compassion, and dedication. As a Platoon Commander, she fostered a safe space for men and women to operate together, quickly becoming a role model for both women and men peacekeepers.

Major Sen’s efforts extended beyond her military duties. She facilitated English classes for children and provided health, gender, and vocational training for displaced and marginalized adults. In the village of Kashlira, she encouraged women to address issues collectively, advocate for their rights, and amplify their voices within the community, particularly in local security and peace discussions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised Major Sen’s service, describing it as “a true credit to the United Nations as a whole.” He will present her with the award during a ceremony on Thursday, May 30th.

Major Sen expressed gratitude for being selected. Reflecting on her peacekeeping role, she said: “This award is special to me as it gives recognition to the hard work put in by all the peacekeepers working in the challenging environment of DRC. Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business – not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity!”

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj, celebrated Major Sen’s achievement, stating, “Her dedication and bravery highlight the invaluable role of women peacekeepers in building a better world. We are incredibly proud of her achievements and inspired by her commitment to peace and equality.”

Major Sen, born in 1993 in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, joined the army eight years ago after graduating as a biotech engineer and pursuing her Master’s degree from IIT Bombay.

With 124 women military peacekeepers currently deployed, India is the eleventh largest contributor of women peacekeepers to the UN. Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, following Major Suman Gawani, a co-recipient in 2019.

(Inputs from ANI)

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