New Delhi: The iTV Network hosted a conclave on “We Women Want: Shakti Awards 2022” at Delhi’s Le Meridien Hotel on 24 August, to honour the spirit of women. This event shares the strength and inspiring tales of women who have worked hard and with great determination.
Women from all walks of life, Paralympians, acid attack survivors, IPS, IAS officers, influencers, actors and others participated in the event to discuss their stories of hardships and success. In an opening speech, the chairperson of ITV Foundation, Dr Aishwarya Pandit Sharma said, “We Women Want is a platform for women to have conversations to discuss issues pertaining to their daily lives, no matter how simple it might seem to raise and create a community.”
India’s First Woman Paralympic Medalist, Dr Deepa Malik, discussed how the concept of discipline, time management, and patriotism shaped her future. She said, “When I got paralysed, I didn’t let negative thoughts affect me and used those thoughts to increase my confidence.” Her never-give-up attitude has transformed her into a strong woman.
Adding to this Asian Para Games, Para Athlete, Shweta Sharma. shed little light on her personal journey along with her professional success. After getting tagged as a divorcee, unemployed, and paralysed, she focused entirely on positivity.
During the conclave, praising Paralympian medalist Deepa Malik, she said, “Deepa ma’am has been a great encouragement for us. I received a lot of training using YouTube. I believe it is important to avoid negativity and put the entire focus on positive aspects. We all Paralympians encourage one another.”
The Boxing Gold Medalist at Commonwealth Games Nitu Ghanghas has learnt a lot from boxer Pinki Rani Jhangra. Labelling her father as a strong support system, she said, “My father has always supported me. Although the training period was hard and I suffered a lot of injuries, she has received a lot of support from her father and people around her.”
Boxer, Bronze Medalist, Commonwealth Games Pinki Rani Jhangra idolises M.C. Mary Kom and believes that every sports person dreams of the Olympics. After defeating M.C. Mary Kom in the same weight category at CWG 2014 qualification trial, she got huge popularity. Coming from a middle-class family, she said, “For a middle-class person, the success of professional stability is a big concern.”
The second session highlighted the journeys of four acid attack survivors—Manini Bisnoi, Anshu Rajput, Ritu Saini, and Seema Rajput. Manini said that society has always blamed girls over boys, even if boys are at fault. Adding to this, Anshu said, “Earlier, I had lost belief in humanity and had started questioning society. But my parents have always supported me.” She was attacked by a 55-year-old stalker.
Similarly, Seema has received a lot of strength during her struggling days and till today her mother is her greatest support. Even when her brother and her sister-in-law ostracised her, her mother never gave up on her and has always stood by her side. Ritu Saini belongs to Haryana and is a state-level volleyball player. However, after the attack, she has poor vision and it took almost two years to face the world again, physically and mentally.
In a special session with Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, he said that religion is never meant to suppress women, but every woman must be respected. He explained that religion has been used as a tool to limit the independence of women. “Islam religion teaches that every woman must be respected,” he said.
The next session focussed on the journeys of women IPS and IAS officers. Joint Commissioner DP (EOW) Chhaya Sharma spoke of her experiences and challenges as a police officer.
When she first raided a brothel, she thought of the victims while climbing up the stairs of the brothel. She feels blessed to be a police officer and contribute to delivering justice in the lives of the people.
Rakhee Gupta Bhandari IAS, Principal Resident Commissioner, Punjab, recalled her challenges during her tenure as the Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot. “Initially there were a lot of challenges, and everyone was doubtful whether I would be able to perform well. But once I overcame those challenges, I was recognised for my work.”
Suman Nalwa IPS Delhi police has been in the police service for the past 25 years. While recalling her experience to train women police, she spoke about the transformation in the personalities of women. “I have seen a lot of transformation during my interaction with women who were coming from various villages in and around Delhi, UP Haryana Bihar. They explained how police jobs have changed their lives and made them powerful and independent,” she said. She stated that it was important to teach girls about good touch and bad touch. Delhi Police has applications that help women to be safe and well informed.
Ira Singhal Ias/DM Headquarters Delhi advised women to have faith in themselves. In her family, she is the first person who serves the government. She was rejected thrice because of her disability. “IAS was the only job that accepted my disability,” she said. Roopa Divaka Moudgali IG dreamt of civil services since childhood.
Dr Rachana Singh SP Puducherry Police was always supported by her father since childhood. She continued to prove her abilities despite challenges and never gave up.
A Special Session with Dr Tamilsai Soundarajan, Governor of Telangana and L-G of Puducherry pointed out that when a woman is endorsed with some responsibility, the world questions her abilities. While addressing the audience, she narrated an incident with an example that children are always made to believe that men are always the rulers. She said that it was important to always support and educate young girls about equality. She said, “Keeping a balance between professional and personal life is also important. We must understand the problems of girl children. We must learn about success and the challenges faced by all. Whatever work I do, we do it in an extraordinary way. What I am today is because of my mother.”
The next session discussed the struggles of women in politics and how the male-dominated political sphere in India has reflected the stature of women in the political world. Speaking of how gender sensitisation is important in today’s world, Sushmita Dev Rajya Sabha MP, TMC, said that history had a plethora of women who broke glass ceilings. She also criticised the hypocrisy of women and how the Bilkis Bano case caused no outrage amongst women. She spoke of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and how she has been a street fighter, as a woman in politics. “Aggression is important in politics,” she said.
Supriya Srinete, Rajya Sabha MP, Congress, highlighted the basic problem of women like lack of washroom facilities. She said, “The onus lies on political people and not on parties. Women always get more sexual abuse than men, so it is important to understand what women across the country are going through.” To this, Khushbu Sundar, BJP Leader and actress, added, “Times are changing and women are playing an important role. Your name should speak for you.” Moreover, when questioned whether Bollywood and politics are any different, she replied, “Politics and Bollywood are two different games and they can’t be compared.”
The next session celebrated the achievements of women in the fashion industry. Designers, namely Rina Dhaka, Anjul Bhandari, Kavita Bhartia, Gurpreet Kaur Sonel, were present at the conclave discussing how the fashion industry is highly female-dominated. Designer Kavita Bharti spoke about the changing times where professions like architects, and lawyers were respected and fashion, as a profession, was completely suppressed. Designer Rina Dhaka said, “In our industry, there are a lot of powerful women. Now, most of the tailoring works are done by males but in craft sewing embroidery, women are dominating.” Designer Anjul said that women can multitask so they are believed to be more powerful. Designer Gurpreet said, “I have many interns who want exposure and they all have creative minds. What we do is not new but not much showcased in the fashion world.”
A session on breaking labels was joined by Khushbu Sundar BJP leader, Kaveree Bamzai, political analyst, and actor Ssumier Pasricha, where the discussion was on how fewer women contribute to the country’s GDP and labels attached to women in different ways.
The next session was joined by businesswomen Dr Shweta Singh Founder & CEO of Ennoble IP, Malika Sadani Founder of The Moms Co, Rouble Nagi Founder, Rouble Nagi Art Foundation, Shaily Mehrotra CEO, Co-Founder Fixderma. Rouble pointed out that the slum areas could be transformed through beauty and she still believes that many women are left behind. Malika spoke of a strong support system and the significance of finding solutions to problems.
Influencers like Richa Mehta, Ashi Khanna, Sejal Kumar, Suhani Shah were also present discussing how the online platform has gained popularity during the pandemic and the challenges to consistency and the importance of remaining updated about the trends. Similarly, actors Shefali Shah and Sharvari Wagh spoke of their journeys in the film industry and Maliaka Arora highlighted self-motivation as a key to her success.
In a special session with Dr Kiran Bedi, former LG of Puducherry, the significance of parenting was discussed. She said, “Today, technology has played a great role and girls must be alert and mindful.” Speaking of the choices she made in life, she said, “Police service is a choice and cannot be pushed into. Security services should not be an option. There were times when she didn’t get postings because officers were not vacating. I was made to wait for the posting to be vacated.”
The conclave also highlighted women’s health in India. Gynaecologists, Dr Vidhi Chaudhary and Dr Sabhyata Gupta, Medical Oncologist, Dr Meenu Walia and IVF Specialist, Dr Ritu Punhani, discussed how women are less aware of their health. Dr Ritu spoke about stigmas related to infertility are always left undiscussed. Dr Meenu highlighted that vaccinations are also available for cervical cancer.
The conclave also presented the lack of knowledge amongst women related to their rights. Advocate Aishwarya Bhati spoke about the laws related to domestic violence and financial abuse, including workspace laws. She said, “Affirmative equality allows government and laws for the betterment of women. We are entitled to maternity benefits and childcare leaves. Equal pay for equal wages irrespective of gender. Along with maternity leave, certain no. If women must also be employed.”
Finally, the conclave was concluded by the Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Anurag Thakur who felicitated women achievers with “The Great India Run” torch which was brought by runners, including many women runners from Srinagar to Delhi. He said, “PM Narendra Modi has brought Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Andolan bringing a revolution in the country. He also praised President Draupadi Murmu for her leadership qualities. Atmanirbhar Bharat is a sign of independent India reflecting independent choices.”
The Shakti Awards were presented to Paralympian Deepa Malik and Chaanv Foundation, boxer Pinki Rani Jhangra, former Captain Indian Hockey Team, Ritu Rani; para athlete Shweta Sharma, designer Kavita Bharti, businesswomen Malika Sadani, Roubal Nagi, actors Shafali Shah, Malaika Arora and Sharavi Wagh, health experts Dr Sabhyata Gupta, Dr Meenu Wali and Dr Vidhi Chaudhary.