Indian woman army major wins UN award for women advocacy

Indian woman army major wins UN award for women advocacy

Indian woman army major wins UN award for women advocacy

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Major Radhika Sen of the Indian Army has been honoured with a prestigious UN award for advocating for women and girls. This announcement was made by Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

On Thursday, Guterres will present Major Sen with the 2023 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, coinciding with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. This award highlights the contributions of a military peacekeeper in promoting gender equality and protecting women and girls from conflict-related violence.

Guterres praised Major Sen as “a true leader and role model,” commending her service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sen was part of the UN’s Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), where she established the Community Alert Networks in North Kivu. These networks allowed community leaders, youth, and women to express their security and humanitarian concerns, which she worked diligently to address.

Sen’s compassionate and dedicated efforts earned her the trust of conflict-affected communities in a volatile region, including women and girls. She stated, “Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business – not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity.”

She emphasized that the award recognises the hard work of all peacekeepers in the DRC, striving to bring positive change. Originally from Himachal Pradesh, Sen has a background in biotech engineering and was studying at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay before joining the Army.

Assigned to MONUSCO in 2023 as the Engagement Platoon Commander with the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion, Sen completed her tenure in April 2024. She is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this honour, following Major Suman Gawani in 2019.

Of the 6,063 Indian personnel in UN peacekeeping, 1,954 serve with MONUSCO, including 32 women. Sen led mixed-gender patrols and activities, becoming a role model and fostering a safe environment for both men and women under her command. She ensured her team respected gender and cultural norms, which helped build trust and enhance their mission’s success.

Sen also launched various programs for women, including English classes for children and health, gender, and vocational training for adults. In the village of Kashlira near Rwindi town, she encouraged women to organize and advocate for their rights in local security and peace discussions.