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Meet Major Radhika Sen, UN Military Gender Advocate Of The Year Award Winner

Meet Major Radhika Sen, UN Military Gender Advocate Of The Year Award Winner

The recognition of Major Sen’s achievements has sent a powerful message to aspiring women in the military, both in India and globally. Her story serves as a testament to the invaluable contributions women can make in the field of peacekeeping and the crucial role they play in building a more just and equitable world.

In a world where peacekeeping missions often face immense challenges, the story of Major Radhika Sen stands out as a beacon of hope and inspiration. This remarkable Indian woman has carved a path of her own, becoming a true role model for aspiring military personnel and a shining example of the invaluable contributions women can make to global peace and security.

Radhika Sen’s Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born in the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh in 1993, Radhika Sen’s journey to the prestigious Indian Army was marked by a deep sense of purpose and a thirst for adventure. After completing her studies in biotechnology engineering and pursuing a master’s degree at the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, she made the bold decision to join the armed forces, driven by a desire to serve her country and make a tangible difference in the world.

Deployment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In March 2023, Major Sen’s dedication and skills were recognized when she was deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Tasked with the crucial role of commanding the Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion, she embarked on a mission that would challenge her both physically and emotionally.

Establishing Community Alert Networks

One of Major Sen’s most significant achievements during her time in the DRC was the creation of the Community Alert Networks in the volatile region of North Kivu. These platforms served as a vital channel for community leaders, young people, and women to voice their security and humanitarian concerns, which she and her team then worked tirelessly to address.

Earning the Trust of Conflict-Affected Communities

Through her unwavering commitment, compassion, and dedication, Major Sen earned the trust of the conflict-affected communities, including women and girls, in the North Kivu region. Her troops actively engaged with these communities, even in the face of an escalating conflict, demonstrating a deep understanding of the unique challenges they faced.

Fostering a Safe and Inclusive Environment

As a Platoon Commander, Major Sen’s leadership was marked by her ability to foster a safe and inclusive environment for both men and women under her command. She encouraged mixed-gender engagement patrols and activities, becoming a role model for her peers and inspiring a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.

Sensitivity to Gender and Sociocultural Norms

Recognizing the importance of cultural sensitivity, Major Sen ensured that the peacekeepers under her command operated with a keen awareness of gender and sociocultural norms in the eastern DRC. This approach helped to build trust with the local communities and increase the chances of successful mission outcomes.

Empowering Women through Education and Training

In addition to her military duties, Major Sen spearheaded initiatives aimed at empowering women and girls in the region. She facilitated English language classes for children and organized health, gender, and vocational training programs for displaced and marginalized adults, directly inspiring women’s solidarity and providing safe spaces for open dialogue.

Encouraging Women’s Advocacy and Amplifying Their Voices

As a gender advocate, Major Sen’s impact extended beyond the immediate confines of her military role. She encouraged women in the village of Kashlira to collectively address issues, advocate for their rights, and amplify their voices within the community, particularly in local security and peace discussions.

Recognition and the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award

Major Radhika Sen’s exemplary service and dedication to promoting gender equality and inclusive peacekeeping did not go unnoticed. In May 2023, she was selected to receive the prestigious United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, becoming the second Indian peacekeeper to be honored with this accolade after Major Suman Gawani in 2019.

Inspiring a New Generation of Women Peacekeepers

The recognition of Major Sen’s achievements has sent a powerful message to aspiring women in the military, both in India and globally. Her story serves as a testament to the invaluable contributions women can make in the field of peacekeeping and the crucial role they play in building a more just and equitable world.

India’s Commitment to Gender Equality in Peacekeeping

India’s consistent support for women’s participation in peacekeeping operations is further underscored by the fact that it currently ranks as the 11th largest contributor of women military peacekeepers to the United Nations, with 124 Indian women currently deployed in various missions.

The Lasting Impact of Major Radhika Sen’s Legacy

As Major Radhika Sen’s story continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide, her legacy will undoubtedly serve as a guiding light for future generations of women in the military. Her unwavering commitment to promoting gender-sensitive peacekeeping, fostering inclusive environments, and empowering conflict-affected communities has left an indelible mark on the global peacekeeping landscape.

Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope and Empowerment

In a world that still grapples with gender disparities and the challenges of maintaining peace and security, the story of Major Radhika Sen stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when women are empowered, recognized, and given the opportunity to lead. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of courage, compassion, and a steadfast dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of those affected by conflict.

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