Sarojini Naidu Prize 2011 Award Ceremony


On October 2, 2011, The Hunger Project (THP)-India hosted the 11th Sarojini Naidu Prize (SNP) at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

Honorable Minister for Rural Development, Shri Jai Ram Ramesh was the Chief Guest, and Ms. Mallika Sarabhai, dancer, choreographer and activist, was the Guest of Honor. They were joined by 50 elected women representatives from seven states. Over 350 dignitaries, including ambassadors from various foreign missions, eminent bureaucrats of the Government of India, academia and members of United Nations agencies joined the chief guests in congratulating the three winners.

The SNP is awarded annually to journalists in three language categories – English, Hindi and Other Regional Languages – with the aim of encouraging the press to energetically and prominently report on the breakthroughs and success stories of women in leadership in India. Winners receive a cash prize and a personalized citation. The winners are selected by a panel of eminent jurors.

This year the award for the English category was given to Ms. Aditi Bhaduri while Ms. Narjis Husain and Mr Guruvappa N.T Balepuni took home the awards for Hindi and Kannada respectively.

In his address, Mr. Jairam Ramesh urged the elected women representatives present to carry forward the brilliant work undertaken by each one of them. Calling the large number of women representation in panchayat bodies as a "peaceful revolution," he said, "There are 15 lakh elected representatives in panchayats. There is 50 percent reservation for women in many states." Seeking the active role of women representatives and women self-help groups in monitoring and implementing rural welfare schemes, he said, "I hope that through panchayats and women self-help groups, implementation and monitoring of the schemes will be strengthened."

Mallika Sarabhai congratulated the spirit and determination of elected women representatives present saying, "It's because of women like you that this country is moving ahead; you are the embodiment of feminine leadership. When you lead, you don't lead alone, you take the entire village with you."

Ms. Rita Sarin, Vice President and Country Director of THP-India, welcomed the Chief Guest and the 50 elected women representatives from seven states to a packed auditorium. Ms. Sarin shared with the audience the journey undertaken by THP-India, the many obstacles that came along the way in empowering the political leadership of women and the change that has come about. What started as representation of women in local governance has evolved into effective participation of women in the political process by making their own decisions for the development of their respective communities.

Up-Sarpanch, Ms. Laxmi Devi from Gram Panchayat Ramnath Dhamauli, Block Kanti, District Muzzafarpur, Bihar shared with the audience her aspirations to make her own village as the model village, where the development undertaken truly benefits all.

The event concluded with a song in Bhojpuri (local dialect of Bihar) by Ms. Sangeeta Kumari from Bihar. The emotions portrayed in the song enthused the whole audience to join her in sharing her feelings on gender discrimination.


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