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Indian military officer Major Radhika Sen wins UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award 2023

Deployed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from March 2023 to April 2024, Major Radhika Sen was assigned the charge as the Engagement Team Commander of the Indian Rapidly Deployed Battalion.

Indian military officer Major Radhika Sen wins UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award 2023 AJR
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First Published May 30, 2024, 7:19 PM IST

The United Nations on Thursday awarded the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award for the year 2023 Indian military officer Major Radhika Sen for her outstanding contributions to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in the peacekeeping operations.

Deployed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from March 2023 to April 2024, Major Radhika Sen was assigned the charge as the Engagement Team Commander of the Indian Rapidly Deployed Battalion.

As the Engagement Platoon Commander, the Indian Army officer showcased her exceptional leadership and commitment during her deployment in Congo.

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“Major Radhika Sen will be honored with the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award on May 30th for her outstanding service in DR Congo. Her dedication and bravery highlight the invaluable role of #women peacekeepers in building a better world. We are incredibly proud of her achievements and inspired by her commitment to peace and equality,” India’s permanent representatives to the United Nations Ruchira Kamboj said in a post on X.

While congratulating her, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described her service as “a true credit to the United Nations as a whole”.

“In an escalating conflict environment in North Kivu, her troops actively engaged with conflict-affected communities, including women and girls,” he explained, noting that she earned their trust “with humility, compassion, and dedication,” Guterres said

“She led a team of 20 women soldiers and 10 male soldiers. Her work primarily focused on interacting with civilians, addressing security concerns of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and advocating for the voices of women, girls, and children in conflict zones,” an Indian Army official said.

Hailing from Himachal Pradesh’s Sunder Nagar in Mandi district, Major Radhika Sen along with her teams conducted educational sessions on essential topics, including women's health, education, childcare, gender equality, and employment.

“These initiatives, coupled with skill development programs, have not only enhanced self-reliance among local populations but also built trust and facilitated effective information gathering,” the official said.

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When asked about her feelings on receiving the award,

Expressing her deep gratitude to her engagement platoon members, particularly her second in command Major Saumya Singh, she thanked them for their unwavering support and the guidance. She also acknowledged the Indian Army for the opportunity and trust bestowed upon her to serve in the United Nations mission.

According to the United Nations, her work has had a profound impact on the local communities in the country and has set a high standard for future peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Commissioned into the Indian Army in 2016, Major Radhika Sen joined the Army Service Corps in 2017.  In her Army career, she has served in difficult and challenging conditions in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and North Sikkim.

Both her parents are retired state government employees as teachers. Her younger sister is pursuing an MD in Anesthesia.

After completing her school studies at Sunder Nagar, Major Sen moved to Chandigarh for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Engineering in Biotechnology and was pursuing her M.Tech from IIT Mumbai before joining the Indian Army.

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Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive the award, following Major Suman Gawani, a co-recipient for 2019.

Other past honourees were from Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

India is currently the eleventh largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the UN, with 124 now deployed.

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