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Major Radhika Sen of India to Receive Prestigious 2023 UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award

United Nations: Major Radhika Sen, an Indian woman peacekeeper, who served with the UN mission in Congo, will be honored with a prestigious military gender advocate award, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describing her as a true leader and role model.

Major Sen, who served with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), will receive the prestigious 2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’ from Guterres during a ceremony at the world body’s headquarters here on May 30 marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

She served in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from March 2023 to April 2024 as the Commander of MONUSCO’s Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion (INDRDB), a UN press release said.

Born in Himachal Pradesh in 1993, she joined the Indian Army eight years ago. She graduated as a biotech engineer and was pursuing her Master’s degree from IIT Bombay when she decided to join the armed forces.

She was deployed to MONUSCO in March 2023 as the Engagement Platoon Commander with the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion and completed her tenure in April 2024.

Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this prestigious award after Major Suman Gawani, who had served with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and was honored with the 2019 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.

Congratulating Major Sen for her service, Guterres said she is a true leader and role model. “Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole.”

He further said in a statement that 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.

The statement added that upon receiving news of the award, Major Sen expressed her gratitude for being selected and reflected on her peacekeeping role.

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! Major Sen led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities in a volatile environment, where many people, including women and children, were leaving everything behind to flee the conflict,” the statement said.

Created in 2016, the United Nations ‘Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award recognizes the dedication and efforts of an individual military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

Created by the Office of Military Affairs within the Department for Peace Operations (DPO), the Award recognizes a military peacekeeper who has the best integrated a gender perspective into peacekeeping activities. Each year, the awardee is selected from among candidates nominated by Force Commanders and Heads of Mission from all peace operations, according to UN Peacekeeping.

India is currently the 11th largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations with 124 now deployed. India has traditionally been among the largest troop and police-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions.

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