The Nari Shakti Puraskar, India’s highest civilian honour for women, was first introduced in 1999 to recognise exemplary service to the cause of upliftment of women, irrespective of the field. This year, the 2017 Nari Shakti Puraskar will be given to around 30 women, recognising their stellar contributions.
Apart from the women, nine institutions including the Punjab Government, which are either run by women or have worked toward women empowerment will get awards, including a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each.
Beti Zindabad Bakery, a unique venture by the Chattisgarh Government for human trafficking survivors, will also be recognised through the award.
The women being honoured are from fields ranging from sport, art and social work, to science and agriculture. Putting service before self, they have worked tirelessly toward a just cause.
Here are 10 of these remarkable women!
1) CK Durga, Doctor
Dr Durga is responsible for a path-breaking technique in breast cancer surgery. According to her methods, the cancerous tissue is surgically removed, and a new breast is constructed using the native tissue of the patient.
2) Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court
Credited with spearheading a judicial intervention to save victims of sexual violence during trials, Justice Gita Mittal, is credited with the Vulnerable Witness Project. The initiative aims to shield victims of sexual violence from trauma during trials.
3) Sabarmatee Tiki, Scholar
A conservationist and scholar, Sabarmatee is the founder of Sambhav. Her venture is an NGO that runs vast organic and training farms near Bhubaneshwar in Odisha. According to her, a person can be the saviour of many varieties of different plants, animals and bird species. Adopting a variety before it vanishes from people’s fields is the central message that Sambhav tries to get across.
4) K Syamalakumari, Temple Mural Artist
A creative powerhouse, Syamalakumari is the first known female temple mural artist in Kerala. She has painted, preserved and restored mural art in several temples, giving them a timeless look, throughout the state.
5) Anita Bharadwaj, Medical Practitioner
Along with 88 doctors, paramedics and social workers, Anita Bharadwaj has undertaken rescue operations during the Uttarakhand flood, Nepal earthquake and the Amarnath Yatra attack. Putting aside her own safety, she worked tirelessly and relentlessly to make sure all rescue operations were smoothly carried out.
6) Chirom Indira, Social Worker
Chirom will receive the award for her remarkable contribution towards women empowerment, development of socio-economic conditions of the weaker sections of society, and her work in the handloom sector. She believes that communal harmony is key to social development in multi-ethnic Manipur, and is a strong supporter of women empowerment.
7) Urmila Balawant Apte, Social Worker
An advocate of women’s rights, Urmila Balawant Apte has spent decades working for the cause of gender equality. One of the founding members of Bharatiya Stree Shakti, a voluntary, autonomous organisation committed to empowering women, families and the society, she has worked to eradicate discrimination at all levels, and recognise women’s contribution to the family and nation-building.
8) Sheela Balaji, Philanthropist
The chairperson and Managing Trustee of the NGO AIM For Seva, Sheela Balaji wanted to bring back indigenous varieties of rice. She started with just four varieties and went on to preserve nearly 30 varieties! She also started a store, Spirit of the Earth, in Chennai, realising that farmers would only grow these indigenous varieties if there was market demand.
9) Ambica Beri, Artist
Ambica is credited with single-handedly establishing ‘Art Ichol,’ India’s only permanent creative retreat for artists and sculptors in Ichal, a small village around 140 km from Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh). The retreat is home to three estates—the Maihar Heritage Home, the Ichol Art centre and Amariya, a writer’s retreat.
10) Sindhutai Sapkal, Social Worker
Sindhutai left school in Class 4 because her parents could not afford the fees. Later, she was married off as a 10-year-old to a cowherd and was thrown out of the house with a newborn girl child.
That prompted her to decide to raise orphans. Struggling and earning just for the betterment of orphans, she is affectionately known as the “Mother of Orphans,” and her adopted children have gone on to become lawyers, doctors and engineers. She was conferred a Doctorate in Literature by the DY Patil Institute of Technology and Research in 2016.
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