Empowered WomenPeoplePower women

Shakti is all about Women Empowerment

Decoding Durga Shakti

Navratri -one of the most auspicious festivals in the Hindu Calendar,is  a celebration of 9 different avatars of Goddess Durga.

Durga is Shakti, which is a symbol for women’s empowermentThis Durga Puja ,RetroPop Lifestyle celebrates 9 women who are giving  Power a new meaning  and a new image. These women are the game changers, and trailblazers. They are the  ones to watch, ones to cheer for, and ones to be inspired by. They are not only chasing their best, but helping others along with them.

Meet our Power Women…

 1    Dia Mirza 

The beautiful actress  is involved with social work and supports many causes like PETA, CRY, ADAPT, Female Foeticide to name a few… she  has been involved with Cancer Patients, Aid Association and Spastics Society of India, and Epilepsy Awareness of India among several others. The former Miss Asia Pacific International Dia Mirza has been quite vocal in her support of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and from cleaning up Juhu beach during Ganesh Visarjan to launching ‘Waste Management On Wheels’ initiative in Mumbai, she  has been taking up various cleanliness related issues from time to time..  In the Year 2017, Dia was appointed as the UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador for India her term was further extended till 2022.She was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as an advocate of Sustainable Development Goals.

Through her status as a celebrity, she has played a crucial role in highlighting issues around conserving nature for the mainstream audience as well. On her involvement in the social causes, Dia shares, “I do it because it helps my life experience feel more worthwhile. I love being in a position to help. It’s a personal high.  Through these, I get a chance to help various initiatives taken in areas of provision of water resources, sanitation, integration of education etc.”

2    Harjinder Kaur Talwar

A small town woman in India’s capital city fighting against all odds, Harjinder Kaur Talwar, has carved a niche for herself and is among the most powerful women in the Country.  The First and only business woman in intelligent traffic solutions, the first woman in India who gave multiple citizen services of government under one umbrella first time in India in Hyderabad in the year 2000 and this project was seen by none other than former US President Bill Clinton. She has held many prestigious positions in the industry organisations.

 Economic Empowerment of Women is what she believes is the empowerment in true sense. As the immediate national past president of FICCI LADIES ORGANISATION (FLO), Asia’s largest Chamber of Commerce for Women, Harjinder initiated a very crucial aspect of empowering rural women. Under her Presidentship, FLO recommended Govt to recognize women working in the agriculture industry as farmers so that they can own the farmland and be able to avail of government welfare schemes.

She’s currently the Co-chair, Empowering the Greater 50, FICCI and Chair in India, India-Uzbek Forum for Business & Entrepreneurship and Global Ambassador,  IWEC (an organization started by leading Chambers of the World).

 “When a woman is empowered, she becomes strong, not only financially, but also emotionally.  She is then able to safeguard her from any societal pressure, and can take charge of her life.  I have always believed in empowering women economically, giving them opportunities to earn so that she’s not dependent on anybody.”, says Harjinder.

 3     Irom Chanu Sharmila 

The “Iron Lady of Manipur” is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state of Manipur. . She wanted to be a doctor but chose to be a rights activist to wage war against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958   that allegedly gives soldiers the “licence to kill” and in November 2000, she began a hunger strike for the abolition.After 16 years of fasting,   “the world’s longest hunger striker ended the fast on 9 August 2016.Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks (she was nasally force fed in jail),

After her first arrest in 2000, Sharmila has been released and rearrested several times Sharmila took her protest to New Delhi in 2006 where she and other activists began fasting at Jantar Mantar. “The long years have broadened my horizons.I have become more fearless about my principles and steadfast in my decisions,” she shares.She was arrested but her hunger strike got international attention and members of the European parliament wrote to the Indian government seeking changes to AFSPA..“I was only associated with the protest against AFSPA. But there are issues of justice, corruption and inequality that I feel we must all take a stand against.” She added

4    Dr Kiran Bedi

The Amritsar born first Woman IPS Officer is huge symbol of Woman Shakti. She was never influenced by any Power and always did what was right! She remained in service for 35 years before taking voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. She is currently the Lieutenant Governor of the union territory of Puducherry. Dr. Kiran Bedi is a true trailblazer, admired and loved by many in India. It is difficult to know where to begin when talking about someone like her, who has excelled in so many different fields. Highly decorative police officer,the winner of the Magsaysay Award in she has been one of the active members of the Anna Hazare-led civil society that launched a movement for the enactment of a strong anti-corruption law, the Jan Lokpal Bill.

She is known for her role as a social activist who runs an NGO’ Navjyoti India Foundation’ (NIF) and works for  de-addiction and rehabilitation of the drug addicts and has expanded to other social issue like illiteracy and women empowerment. She also started India Vision Foundation in 1994 that has been working for police reforms, prison reforms, and women empowerment and rural and community development. “My concept of a modern woman is a liberated woman. And for the same women “need more quality education and much more vocational training to become truly empowered .I would ask all parents to have the determination to give the best to their daughter,” she appeals. It’s the duty of the parents and teachers as well to instil courage and values in the girls.”

 5    Laxmi Agarwal

The acid attack survivor, a campaigner for rights of acid attack victims, A former director of Chhanv Foundation, a NGO dedicated to help acid attack survivors in India. She has established grassroots campaigns for tackling the surge of acid attacks; one of her petitions has led the Supreme Court to order the central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid and the Parliament to enable easier prosecutions of acid attack perpetrators

 Laxmi is recipient of many awards like Winner of International Women Empowerment Award from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and UNICEF for her campaign of Stop Sale Acid. In 2014, she received the International Women of Courage award at the hands of First Lady Michelle Obama. Even a film Chhapaak, was made by Mrghna Gulzar on her life. She is the one who always supports women empowerment and emphasizes on gender equality in society.”If the society has equality then women will get respect automatically,” she said and asks the parents to give good upbringing and not to do any differentiation between a girl and a boy child.”

 6   Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar is among the few veteran social activists whose moral example and selfless struggle has stood out for many to follow.

 Daughter of a trade union leader, Medha had understood the problems faced by the economically backward sections of society at a young age, and felt the need to serve them. Her father, who was active in the Indian Independence movement, and her mother, who was a member of Swadar – an organisation formed to assist and support women who are financially weak, fully supported Medha in her ambition, and paved the way for her education. In 1989, she concocted the Narmada Bachao Andolan on behalf of the farmers and tribal people to prevent the Sardar Sarovar Dam from being erected on the Narmada river. The Narmada crusader has always had water conservation as her highest priority. In her own words, “The right to water is a basic human right that is part of the right to life.”

She has been firm on the issue and till date ensures that tribal agitations – be it for their own rights or for protecting the environment – get her full support.In the Tata-Singur case, Medha Patkar played a pivotal role in curbing Tata’s intention of laying down a Nano plant, which would have rendered a number of farmers without land and hence without any means of income. Her work challenges Casteism, Communalism and all kinds of discrimination Medha works on various crucial political and economic issues raised by tribals, dalits, farmers, labourers and women facing injustice in India,

And that’s the mark of a true power woman – the courage to stand up when no one else does, and the strength to speak and bring about a change.

  7    Seema Khaitan

From a traditional Marwari family in Kolkata, Seema Khaitan was married into a family of renowned lawyers in Delhi.  She pursued Law after marriage but instead of joining the family profession, went ahead and followed her passion of social service.  Seema, then joined a slew of social welfare organisations to help women at the grassroot level. In her past twenty years of social service, she has touched every aspect of social work, be it skilling and empowering women, providing education to girl child, taking care of their well being and adopting villages etc.  She has touched numerous lives being part of various social organisations and her dedication towards the cause has held her in high positions there. She has served as National Editor of Inner Wheel, World’s largest women‘s service organization, and is part of the Executive Board of PHD Rural Foundation and Divya Chhaya trust.

As she says, “There are miles to go in bridging the gaps between “haves” and “have nots”. However, I strongly believe that a tender and caring heart can change fortunes for many and this is what I aim to do all my life”.

8    Shabana Azmi

The Veteran actor Shabana Azmi has been a committed social activist, active in supporting child survival and fighting AIDS and injustice in real life.She raised her voiced on a variety of issues like religious extremism.

Shabana Azmi  now runs an NGO, Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS), which was founded by her father Kaifi Azmi. The NGO focuses on rural areas to bring about holistic economic development in the country by providing employment opportunities to people from small towns and villages.

Mijwan is a village in Uttar Pradesh. Kaifi Azmi always believed that India’s remarkable economic progress can only be meaningful if it reaches rural India, where 80 per cent of the population lives, but is denied access to opportunity. “His prophetic words have become my mantra in the work that I do with the weak and the dispossessed,” tells Shabana Azmi.

Celebrity fashion designer Manish Malhotra has also collaborated with Azmi to provide work to the Mijwan artisans.

9    Dr. Shayama Chona

Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan Awardee, the former Principal of Delhi Public School RK Puram, New Delhi, Dr Shayama Chona A woman who has never given up and has always stayed strong throughout her life! She is known for her efforts to break the barriers. Her journey remains full of glory and inspiration. She strove to make this world a better place through her NGO, ‘Tamana’ that works for physically and mentally challenged children. Dr. Chona has been serving as a member of over 99 Advisory Boards, Committees, and Educational Institutions and is a member of UNESCO. With her name in the Limca book of Records 2007 and an unusual of 49 awards, she has made the difference we wish to see in the world. Under her leadership as President of the Governing Council, Tamana Association received the First Mother Teresa Award for its dedicated services to the intellectually impaired.

Tamana is a registered voluntary and non-profit making Society, working since 1984 for the upliftment of multiple-handicapped children. “My main concern is to streamline the handicapped with the normal children, by providing them with special education, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.”  Dr Chona always had the zeal to work for the weaker sections of society and disabled children. “But life is much larger than we realized. One should think beyond oneself,” she reiterates. She is right-the satisfaction derived after helping out the needy is much greater than anything desirable!

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