Indian peacekeeper Major Radhika Sen to receive prestigious 2023 UN military gender advocate of the year award | India News

NEW DELHI: Major Radhika Sen, an Indian woman peacekeeper, is set to receive a prestigious military gender advocate award from the United Nations. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has praised her as a “true leader and role model.”
Major Sen served with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).She will be honoured with the ‘2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’ on May 30, coinciding with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
Sen’s tenure in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) spanned from March 2023 to April 2024. She was the Commander of MONUSCO’s Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion (INDRDB), according to a UN press release.
Upon learning of her award, Major Sen expressed her gratitude and reflected on her peacekeeping mission.
“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 and giving their best to bring a positive change in the society,” she said.
“Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business – not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity!”
Born in Himachal Pradesh in 1993, Major Sen joined the Indian Army eight years ago. Before her military career, she graduated as a biotech engineer and was studying for her Master’s degree at IIT Bombay.
She was deployed to MONUSCO in March 2023 as the Engagement Platoon Commander with the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion. She completed her tenure in April 2024.
Major Sen becomes the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this prestigious award. Major Suman Gawani was the first, honoured in 2019 for her service with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Congratulating Major Sen, Guterres said she exemplifies true leadership and serves as an inspiration. “Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole,” he noted.
He further explained that during an escalating conflict in North Kivu, Major Sen’s troops actively engaged with conflict-affected communities, including women and girls. She earned their trust through humility, compassion, and dedication.
Major Sen led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities in volatile regions. Her efforts were aimed at assisting people, including women and children, who were fleeing the conflict, as mentioned in the statement.
Created in 2016, the United Nations ‘Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’ acknowledges the dedication of an individual military peacekeeper. This award aligns with the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.
The Award, established by the Office of Military Affairs within the Department for Peace Operations (DPO), honours military peacekeepers who best integrate a gender perspective into peacekeeping activities. Each year, the awardee is chosen from candidates nominated by Force Commanders and Heads of Mission from all peace operations, according to UN Peacekeeping.
India ranks as the 11th largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations. Currently, 124 Indian women are deployed in various missions. India has traditionally been a significant contributor of both troops and police to UN peacekeeping missions.

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