IIT Bombay Alumna, Major Radhika Sen, Receives Prestigious UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award

10 Jun 2024

Image Courtesy: The Indian Express

IIT Bombay alumna and an Indian Army Officer, Major Radhika Sen, has been awarded the 2023 United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised her as a “true leader and role model” for her work with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

From March 2023 to April 2024, Major Sen served as the Commander of MONUSCO’s Engagement Platoon for the Indian Rapid Deployment Battalion in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her leadership and dedication were crucial in fostering trust and communication with conflict-struck communities, particularly women and girls. “This award is special to me as it gives recognition to the hard work put in by all the peacekeepers working in the challenging environment of DRC and giving their best to bring a positive change in society,” said Major Sen.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted Major Sen’s exemplary service, stating, “Her service was a true credit to the United Nations as a whole.” Under her command, troops engaged with local communities, emphasizing the importance of gender-sensitive peacekeeping. Major Sen remarked, “Gender-sensitive peacekeeping is everybody’s business – not just us, women. Peace begins with all of us in our beautiful diversity!”

Major Sen’s journey is truly inspiring. Born in Himachal Pradesh in 1993, she pursued biotech engineering and completed her Master’s from IIT Bombay. It was during her time at IIT Bombay that she decided to join the Army, embarking on a path that would lead her to international recognition.

Major Sen is the second Indian peacekeeper to receive this prestigious UN honour, following Major Suman Gawani, who was awarded in 2019 for her work with the UN Mission in South Sudan. The United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year award, initiated in 2016, the same year Major Sen joined the Indian armed forces, acknowledges military peacekeepers who exemplify the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

Major Radhika Sen’s award not only recognizes her individual achievements but also underscores the significant contributions of Indian women in global peacekeeping efforts. Her story is a testament to the impact of dedication, compassion, and leadership in making a positive difference in conflict zones.

The recognition of Major Sen underscores the profoundly impactful role that IIT Bombay plays in cultivating its diverse alumni community. Apart from providing rigorous academic training, and fostering values of leadership and compassion, the Institute’s commitment to gender equality is equally robust. Major Sen’s extraordinary accomplishment is a reflection of its diverse and inclusive campus environment that continues to empower women to excel in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Congratulations to Major Sen!