BERLIN | NEW DELHI (IDN-INPS | WION) – Major Siddharth Chatterjee (Retd), the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, a humanitarian and development professional, a feminist and a passionate advocate for youth empowerment who has served in many war-ravaged and fragile parts of the world spoke exclusively to WION about his passion for advancing gender equality, his impressions of Kenya, the UN reform, and his transition from the Indian Army to the UN.
Below is the full transcript of the interview, first published on WION on November 15, 2017. It is being reproduced with due permission.
Q: Why this passion about gender equality and women’s empowerment?
A: I would say my passion for gender advocacy was cemented by my experiences in the Indian Army and at a personal level. My own grandmother was married at the age of 11 and had 15 children, 9 of whom survived. My early years in conflict settings also brought home the reality that women and children are worst effected during wars and natural disasters. While serving in the army as a young officer, I was horrified to find out that a soldier from my unit had raped a young girl.
I remember the sheer fear and trauma that girl went through, and the helplessness of her family.
It was a life changing moment for me. While the punishment that followed was swift and uncompromising, it was at that moment that I swore to fight all forms of misogyny, discrimination and violence.
In many of the countries I worked in, disease outbreaks, lack of water and sanitation were the order of the day. Reproductive health services, including midwifery outreach services, antenatal care, management of prenatal complications and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS were not readily available in conflict regions. These problems had particularly harsh consequences among women and children. MORE >>>