Indian Army Major Radhika Sen to Receive UN Award for Advocacy of Women and Girls in Peacekeeping

GG News Bureau
New York, 29th May.
 Indian Army Major Radhika Sen has been selected to receive the 2023 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award from the United Nations, recognizing her outstanding advocacy for women and girls while serving as a peacekeeper. Stephane Dujarric, the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, announced the award, stating that Guterres will present it to Major Sen on Thursday, which is observed as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

The award acknowledges military peacekeepers who promote the principles of the 2000 Security Council resolution aimed at protecting women and girls from conflict-related sexual violence and setting gender-related responsibilities for the UN. Guterres praised Major Sen as “a true leader and role model,” commending her service as a significant contribution to the United Nations.

Major Sen served with the Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), where she was instrumental in creating the Community Alert Networks in North Kivu. This platform enabled community leaders, youth, and women to voice their security and humanitarian concerns. Working alongside her MONUSCO colleagues, she addressed these concerns effectively.

Guterres highlighted that through her humility, compassion, and dedication, Major Sen earned the trust of conflict-affected communities, including women and girls, as her troops engaged with them in the escalating conflict environment in North Kivu.

“Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business—not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity,” Major Sen stated. She expressed that the award is a recognition of the hard work of all peacekeepers operating in the challenging environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Major Sen, hailing from Himachal Pradesh, is a biotech engineer who was pursuing a master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay before joining the Army. She was assigned to MONUSCO in 2023 as the Engagement Platoon Commander with the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion and completed her tenure in April 2024.

She is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this honor, following Major Suman Gawani, who was awarded in 2019 for her service with the UN Mission in South Sudan.

Out of the 6,063 Indian personnel in UN peacekeeping operations, 1,954 serve with MONUSCO, including 32 women. The UN noted that Major Sen, who led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities, became a role model for both men and women by fostering a safe space for all under her command. She ensured her peacekeepers operated with sensitivity to gender and sociocultural norms in the eastern DRC, building trust and enhancing the team’s effectiveness.

Among her initiatives were English language classes for children and health, gender, and vocational training for adults. Her efforts inspired women’s solidarity and provided safe spaces for meetings and open dialogue. She also encouraged women in the village of Kashlira, near Rwindi town, to organize and advocate for their rights, particularly in local security and peace discussions.

Comments are closed.