Nikita Sharma, New Delhi
A matriarch in Maharashtra adopts over one thousand orphan children; another in Rajasthan becomes the youngest Sarpanch of her native village with an MBA, leaving a lucrative corporate career behind; and yet another 23 year old becomes the first Kashimiri woman to develop an android app for the people of her state.
These and many such wondrous women achievers were honored by the Assocham Ladies League (ALL), the country’s first all-women chamber, at its Grassroots Women of the Decade Achievers Awards. ALL honored 36 phenomenal women leaders from more than 16 different States covering all corners of the country, from Village Soda to Sikkim, from Qadri to Kolkatta, from Mumbai to Madurai, from Vrindavan to Manipur, from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, from Telangana to Uttarakhand.
Chief Guest Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty alleviation, Government of India along with Dr. Harbeen Arora, Global Chairperson, ALL presented the awards to women leaders from diverse sectors.
Minister Naidu said on the occasion, “Today, women are not only making a mark for themselves but helping many others, especially the marginalized and vulnerable sections of society. We must evolve our conscious for women’s reservation and should get more women in the parliament as soon as possible.
Dr. Harbeen Arora, Global Chairperson, Assocham Ladies League added that, “proactive efforts like this one are needed to highlight women’s leadership across the country so that many more women are inspired to engage in society at multiple levels.”
Anar Ben from Gujarat, founder of Gramshree, worked for the empowerment of 17,000 artisans and educated 8000 street children and working for the upliftment of women. She said on the occasion, “If all of us understand and realize our duties towards the betterment of society then, every individual will be contributing to the growth and development of the nation”.
Anjum Chopra from Delhi, former captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket Team, said, “I would like to extend my appreciation to the women’s chamber ALL for their exemplary initiative to encourage the grassroots women from all sectors, especially sports”.
Dr. Sunitha Krishnan from Telangana, who rescued and rehabilitated over 10,000 girls from sexual slavery, said on the occasion “Women must speak up against abuse.”
Chhavi Rajawat from Rajasthan, the youngest woman Sarpanch, who utilized her Master’s degree to transform her ancestral village into a 21st occasion that “Don’t wait for the change, instead be the change.”
Ruchira Gupta from W. Bengal, who has given 25 years of her life working to save over 15,000 girls trapped in prostitution, also lauded the women’s chamber for looking at social issues.
K.S Sarojamma from Karnataka, who worked relentlessly and rescued over 3000 children working under inhuman conditions in factories and helped shut down 800 of 1000 factories which employed child labor, said on the occasion that “Children are our future and we as a society need to pay much greater attention to the education and well-being of poor children.”
Dr. LaxmiGautam from Uttar Pradesh, who looks after Vrindavan widows to give them a independent life, she said at the occasion that, “it is hard to believe even in the 21st when we are a knowledge superpower, sections of our society still follow the malpractice of abandoning widows.”
Hiresha Verma from Uttarakhand, a social entrepreneur who trained over a 1000 women in Uttarakhand to farm mushrooms and earn a living, said on the occasion that, “I have created a small model of social entrepreneurship with women as suppliers in my mushroom-selling business model. Much more can be done in this area through proactive policy measures.”
Meera Munda from Jharkhand, who helped over 1000 poverty ridden girls to get education and employment, and is working for the upliftment of the tribal’s, said on the occasion that, “ If we foresee a dream of a developed nation, then empowerment needs to begin from the grassroots where the needy people require the maximum support.”
Mehvish Mustaq from Jammu & Kashmir, a successful young entrepreneur and the first Kashmiri to develop an android application, ‘Dial Kashmir,’ said on the occasion that, “Hurdles and challenges should never shake the foundation of a dream. We must focus on our dreams with passion and determination, and success will follow. I am an example of that” Dr. Sailakshmi Balijepalli of Ekam Foundation from Tamil Nadu, who is working for zero child mortality said on the occasion that, “Assocham Ladies League(ALL) has really done a wonderful service to the Nation by gathering women achievers from across the country.
I am feeling so inspired by just being in the midst of such achievers and hearing their stories.”
Yishey Doma Bhutia from Sikkim, a prolific journalist and writer, who has written several books showcasing the beauty and culture of Sikkim, and engaged with lives of people at grassroots, said on the occasion that, “we need to foster a closer connect between people in the North East and in the mainland, and a national level honor such as this Award for me from the Hon’ble Minister is certainly a warm and strong step toward it” century modern village, said on the
Dr. Alana Golmei from Manipur, of the 24/7 “North East Helpline and Support Center, said on the occasion that, “Facing racism in one’s own country is the worst nightmare that anyone can face. I appreciate ALL for acknowledging our support centre and rewarding our small initiative to help remove this scourge.”
Prema Gopalan, from Maharastra, founder SwayamShikshamPrayog, who has been involved in disaster rehabilitation projects for over 15 years and also actively creative social entrepreneurship models involving women, said on the occasion that, “women must come forward and should not hesitate to take leadership roles. I hope that our stories can inspire them.”
Cheruvu Bhanuja from Andhra Pradesh, Founder REDS who rescued over 200 girls from anbrothel in A.P, said on the occasion that, “Children are the future of our country and it’s a nation’s responsibility to safeguard their freedom and right to live freely in a democratic nation”.
Valli Annamalai from Madurai who has helped abolish female infanticide from villages notorious for it, said that “women themselves need to be more kind, generous and supportive toward other women. We must take our sisterhood seriously as that can be the most empowering tool.”