Niti Aayog Friday declared the 12 winners of its ‘Women Transforming India’ campaign at Teen Murti Bhawan Friday evening. While the oldest winner is 104-year-old Kunwarbai — who built a toilet in her village in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari and set an example for the residents — the youngest is nine-year-old Muskaan Ahirwar, who runs a library in her village near Bhopal.
The online campaign was launched on International Women’s Day this year by NITI Aayog, in partnership with MyGov and the United Nations in India, to crowdsource stories of women who make a difference. “The campaign received nearly 1,000 entries of exceptional girls and women across India who are breaking new ground by empowering themselves or others. After a rigorous process of shortlisting, 25 stories were put to poll to select the top 12 stories,” said Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
Other winners included 53-year-old Lakshmi Gautam, who provides food, shelter and medical care to abandoned widows in Vrindavan, Bangalore-based Pavithra Y S, who runs a BPO which solely employs disabled people, and India’s first paraplegic woman swimmer Deepa Malik.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said, “We all have our female hero or heroes in the family. If I had a chance, I would have nominated my grandmother. She earned 2 annas a day but still understood the importance of education and sent my father to school.” Olympic bronze medal winner Sakshi Malik was invited as the chief guest.