Indian Peacekeeper Radhika Sen to Receive UN Military Gender Advocate Award

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Major Radhika Sen, an Indian military peacekeeper serving with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), has been named the recipient of the 2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.

Major Sen served as the Commander of MONUSCO’s Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion in the volatile eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from March 2023 to April 2024. Her exemplary service and leadership in promoting gender equality and the principles of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace, and security earned her this distinguished recognition.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres will present the award to Major Sen during a ceremony commemorating the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 30 May 2024. Guterres praised her efforts, “Major Sen is a true leader and role model. Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole. In an escalating conflict environment in North Kivu, her troops actively engaged with conflict-affected communities, including women and girls. She earned their trust doing so with humility, compassion, and dedication.”

Upon receiving the news, Major Sen expressed her gratitude, emphasizing the collective efforts of all peacekeepers: “This award is special to me as it recognizes the hard work put in by all the peacekeepers working in the challenging environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and giving their best to bring a positive change in society. Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business — not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity!”

During her tenure, Major Sen led mixed-gender engagement patrols and facilitated the creation of Community Alert Networks in North Kivu, providing a platform for community leaders, youth, and women to voice their security and humanitarian concerns. She also organized English classes for children and health, gender, and vocational training for displaced and marginalized adults. Her initiatives inspired women’s solidarity, creating safe spaces for dialogue and advocacy.

Major Sen’s efforts in fostering a safe and inclusive environment for male and female peacekeepers under her command have made her a role model within MONUSCO. Her commitment to gender-sensitive engagement helped build trust within the community, increasing the mission’s effectiveness.

Born in Himachal Pradesh, India, in 1993, Major Sen joined the army eight years ago after graduating as a biotech engineer and pursuing a master’s degree from IIT Bombay. She is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this award, following Major Suman Gawani, a co-recipient, in 2019. Other past honorees hail from Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

India currently ranks as the eleventh largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations, with 124 deployed. Major Sen’s recognition underscores the significant impact of Indian peacekeepers in advancing the UN’s mission of peace and security globally.

The Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award is underpinned by the principles outlined in United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and follow-on resolutions on women, peace and security.  The resolutions call on actors to mainstream a gender perspective in all aspects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding and to ensure women’s participation in peace and political processes.  They also call for the protection from, and prevention of, conflict-related sexual violence and for an expansion of the role and contribution of women in UN operations, including of uniformed women peacekeepers.

IAT News Service
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