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Indian Peacekeeper Receives UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award

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 awarded the prestigious 2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. This award recognizes her dedication and efforts in promoting the principles of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.

A Trailblazer in Gender-Sensitive Peacekeeping

During her deployment from March 2023 to April 2024, Major Sen served as the Commander of MONUSCO’s Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion. In this role, she led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities in a volatile environment, building trust with conflict-affected communities, including women and children.

Fostering Safe Spaces and Empowering Women

Major Sen facilitated English classes for children and provided health, gender, and vocational training for displaced and marginalized adults. Her efforts directly inspired women’s solidarity, providing safe spaces for meetings and open dialogue. She encouraged women in the village of Kashlira to organize themselves, advocate for their rights, and amplify their voices within the community, particularly in local security and peace discussions.

A Role Model for Gender-Sensitive Peacekeeping

As a Platoon Commander, Major Sen fostered a safe space for men and women to operate together under her command, quickly becoming a role model for both women peacekeepers and her male counterparts. She ensured that peacekeepers under her command engaged in a manner sensitive to gender and sociocultural norms, helping to build trust and increase their chances of success.

Continuing India’s Legacy in UN Peacekeeping

Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this prestigious award, following in the footsteps of Major Suman Gawani, who was a co-recipient in 2019. India is currently the eleventh largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations, with 124 currently deployed.

A Trailblazer from a Young Age

Born in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in 1993, Major Radhika Sen joined the army eight years ago. A biotech engineer by training, she was pursuing her master’s degree from IIT Bombay when she decided to join the armed forces, exemplifying her dedication and commitment from a young age.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, congratulated Major Sen, describing her as a “true leader and role model” whose service was a “true credit to the United Nations as a whole.” Major Sen expressed her gratitude for the award, stating that it recognizes the hard work of all peacekeepers in the challenging environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working to bring positive change to society.

Through her unwavering commitment to gender-sensitive peacekeeping, Major Radhika Sen has set an inspiring example for future generations of peacekeepers, leaving a lasting impact on the communities she served and the principles she upheld.

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