Five individuals doing remarkable work in Rotary’s focus areas — economic development; health; literacy; and water, sanitation and hygiene were honoured at the Rotary institute with a citation and a cash reward of ₹1 lakh each.
Ayyapa Masagi, also known as Water Gandhi, for creating solutions to overcome water scarcity and making communities more water efficient; Jadav Payeng, popularly known as the Forest Man of India and an environmental activist; Kulwinder Kaur Minhas, a social worker and educationist who gave up her teaching career to serve the slum children in Ludhiana through her Jhuggiwala School; Thaslima Nasreen, a transgender woman, for her startup Halal Catering, a food catering business entirely managed and run by transgenders; and Dr Abhijit Sonawane, who is providing free treatment to beggars and the street dwellers in Pune, were presented with the Rotary Hero Awards.
“For me, women’s empowerment is about bringing attention to some of the issues that we’re facing here in our country in the hope that people will learn more, educate themselves and hopefully take action,” said Jai Madaan, a lifestyle coach, in her address at the institute. She stressed on the need for better awareness on gender equity and pointed out that gender bias is a universal issue. “Be assertive and not aggressive in your approach. Ask questions, talk about the problems women face at their homes, and workplace,” she said, adding that sensitising women about their rights and opportunities will go a long way in their empowerment.
Boys should be taught to be more respectful rather than girls getting conditioned towards conservativism. “We must bring up both men and women on an equal platform. Whether a woman chooses to work for money or follows her passion or opts to stay at home, her choices must be respected and she must be treated with dignity always,” she said, adding that respect for women should begin at home. “Teach your children to respect the mother as much as the father. In many cases the father maybe the provider but in all cases the mother is the nurturer.”