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Meet the 3 Real-Life Heroes Whose Fight For Gender Equality Won Them Awards!

The Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children was instituted in 1980, in the memory of Mrs Jankidevi Bajaj.

Meet the 3 Real-Life Heroes Whose Fight For Gender Equality Won Them Awards!

This article has been sponsored by Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation

Over 100 years ago, Swami Vivekananda understood that there is no chance for welfare in the world unless the condition of women improves. After all, ‘It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.’

This philosophy continues to be relevant, and hence the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation decided to include a special Award for Development and Welfare Of Women and Children in the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards.

Established in 1978 by Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation (JBF), the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards are one of the longest-standing awards in India. They recognise unsung heroes who have inspired many across the world, acknowledge their selfless efforts to make a difference in society and to promote community service and social development through the lens of Gandhian values.

The Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children was instituted in 1980, in the memory of Mrs Jankidevi Bajaj. It comprises a cash prize of Rs 10,00,000, a trophy and citation to be given annually to a woman or women for outstanding contribution to development and welfare of women and children.

The areas it focuses on include education, skills training, healthcare, literacy, livelihood activities, holistic development, advocacy, etc.

Here are some of the brilliant women who have received the award over the years:

1. This year, the award was presented to Prasanna Bhandari, who has been working for the rescue and empowerment of deserted and relinquished infants, destitute children, distressed women and girls, and the elderly.

Prasanna is now the convenor of Karni Nagar Vikas Samiti, Kota (SKNVS).

With a keen focus on the overall development of women and children, Prasanna has been carrying out exemplary work through an array of initiatives which covers all age groups.

Various centres including the Family Counseling Center, Primary School, Old Age Home and a Physiotherapy Clinic have been set up for the same.

Currently, SKNVS runs three different shelters—Balgriha, Balikagriha and Shishugriha—where the holistic development of children is given top priority. Rehabilitation, counselling and skill training for women is also a crucial part of SKNVS’s activities. Additionally, Prasanna’s concern for the elderly has led the organisation to provide shelter and dignity to them.

Over the years, several worthy women have received this award.

2) Parents usually become role models for their children, but Dr Praveen Nair, an 87-year-old, found inspiration in her daughter, Mira, an acclaimed film director.

Praveen was inspired to dedicate her life to transforming the lives of street children after watching her daughter’s film, Salaam Bombay. It was then that she established the Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT), in 1988, along with her friend, Sanjoy Roy.

What started with three staff members and 25 children in a small space provided by the Ground Reserve Police (GRP) in the New Delhi Railway Station, has now expanded to six residential centres—Aasra, Apna Ghar, Old Delhi Railway Station Open Shelter and DMRC Children’s Home (for boys); Arushi and Rose Home (for girls).

Here, the children are provided with shelter and care, a healthy and happy environment, nutritious food, clothes, education, healthcare, counselling, and recreational facilities.

In the last 30 years, over 80,000 children have benefited through SBT’s program.

Dr Nair was presented with this award in 2017.

3) In 2016, the award was conferred to Dr Nannapaneni Manga Devi, who has been working for the welfare and empowerment of women and children for the past 50 years, through the Sri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer and Chetana Charitable Trust.

In 1965, she gave up a government job to set up a unique Montessori school—Sri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer—in Brodipet, Guntur.

In 1990, inspired by Mother Teresa, she also set up the Chetana Charitable Trust—a multi-purpose rural project in 1990 in Chowdavaram—mainly to serve the poor and needy. Since then, it has become the hub of all her welfare activities for the upliftment of oppressed women and children ensuring their development and security.

Every year, the Foundation distributes these awards in four categories—Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Constructive Work; Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development; Award for Development and Welfare Of Women and Children; and International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

The winners of different categories win prize money in the range of Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 10,00,000. The awards also include a citation and a trophy.

Calls for recommendations for the nomination in the 42nd edition of the award ceremony are already underway. The nominations need to be made on the website:

The last date for sending in the nominations for the 2019 award ceremony is January 19 for the three national awards and February 28 for the international award.

Find more details here. Read about other categories here.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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