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Indian woman Army Major to receive UN Gender Advocate of Year Award


Mangalore Today News Network/NDTV

New Delhi, May 29, 2024: Indian Army Major Radhika Sen has been selected to receive a UN award recognising her advocacy for women and girls while serving as a peacekeeper, Stephane Dujarric, the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, announced here.

 

Radhika Sen


Dujarric said that Guterres will present Ms Sen with the 2023 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award on Thursday, which is observed as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

The award recognises the efforts of a military peacekeeper in promoting the principles of the 2000 Security Council resolution that calls for protecting women and girls from conflict-related sexual violence and sets gender-related responsibilities for the UN.

Congratulating her, Guterres called her "a true leader and role model. Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole".

Ms Sen served with the Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) where she helped create the Community Alert Networks in North Kivu as a platform that brought in community leaders, young people, and women "to voice their security and humanitarian concerns", according to the UN.

With her MONUSCO colleagues, she worked to address those concerns.

Guterres said that "with humility, compassion and dedication", she earned the trust of "conflict-affected communities, including women and girls" as her troops engaged with them "in an escalating conflict environment in North Kivu".

Ms Sen said, "Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business - not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity."

"This award is special to me as it gives a recognition to the hard work put in by all the peacekeepers working in the challenging environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and giving their best to bring a positive change in the society," she added.

Hailing from Himachal Pradesh, Sen is a biotech engineer who was studying for a master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay when she decided to join 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.

Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive the honour after Major Suman Gawani, who served with the UN Mission in South Sudan and received the award in 2019.

Of the 6,063 Indian personnel in UN peacekeeping operations, 1,954 serve with MONUSCO, 32 of them women.

The UN said that Sen, who led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities, became a role model for both men and women by fostering "a safe space for men and women to operate together under her command".

She also made sure that peacekeepers under her command operated with sensitivity to gender and sociocultural norms in the eastern DRC "to help build trust and thereby increase her team’s chance of success", the UN said.

Among the activities she launched for women were English language classes for children, and health, gender, and vocational training for adults.

"Her efforts directly inspired women’s solidarity, providing safe spaces for meetings and open dialogue", the UN said.

She encouraged women in the village of Kashlira, near Rwindi town, to organise themselves to advocate for their rights, particularly in local security and peace discussions.


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