Who Is Major Radhika Sen? The 2023 UN Military Gender Advocate Of The Year Awardee

Major Sen has served with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

Major Radhika Sen Photo: PTI

Major Radhika Sen, an Indian peacekeeper, is all set to be honoured with the '2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award' by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Sen said that it is a "matter of honour and privilege" for her to represent India at the multilateral forum. "Representing the country at such an international forum is a feeling beyond description,” she told news agency PTI.

Major Sen, who served with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) will receive the prestigious award from Guterres on the occasion of International Day of UN Peacekeepers, on Thursday.

Congratulating her for her service, Guterres said Major Sen is a "true leader and role model. Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole." He said that her troops actively engaged with conflict-affected communities, including women and girls, in the escalating tense environment in North Kivu.

She earned their trust with humility, compassion and dedication, he said.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj also congratulated Sen. She said, "Major Radhika Sen will be honoured 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, Kamboj added.

Who Is Radhika Sen?

Born in 1993 in Himachal Pradesh, Major Sen joined the Indian Army eight years ago. She graduated as a biotech engineer and went on to pursue her master's degree from IIT Bombay when she decided to join the armed forces.

Sen was deployed to the MONUSCO in March 2023 as the Engagement Platoon Commander with the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion and completed her tenure in April 2024. She served in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this prestigious award after Major Suman Gawani, who served with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and was honoured in 2019.

Major Sen's Contribution To North Kivu Conflict

Major Radhika Sen's troops had actively engaged with conflict-hit communities in North Kivu.

She led mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities in a volatile environment, where many persons, including women and children, were leaving behind everything to flee the conflict in North Kivu.

The Community Alert Networks that she helped create in the region served as a platform for community leaders, youth and women to voice their concerns. In return, Major Sen would help address the issues with her colleagues in the Mission.

Major Sen also facilitated English classes for children and health, gender and vocational training for adults. Her work truly inspired the women's solidarity, providing safe space for everyone to hold meetings and open dialogue.

Major Sen pressed on the importance of women peacekeepers engaging and participating in UN missions and said that in any conflict, women and girls are the majorly affected ones.

"Once you increase the number of women peacekeepers, you increase a reach-out to that section of the society," she said.

Notably, at present, India is 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 the UN peacekeeping missions.

In January 2023, a platoon of women peacekeepers had been deployed in Abyei as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force, Abyei (UNIFSA). This was India's largest single unit of women peacekeepers in a UN mission since it deployed the first-ever all women's contingent in Liberia, 2007.

(With agency inputs)