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Mainstream, VOL LV No 22 New Delhi May 20, 2017

Martha Farrell Awards for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment

Saturday 20 May 2017, by Bharat Dogra

The first Martha Farrell Awards for Women’s Empowerment were presented recently at a well-organised event in Delhi. These have been instituted to honour Dr Martha Farrell and her ideals. These awards recognise and honour mid-career individual and institutional contributions to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Dr Martha Farrell (1959-2015) is widely known and respected for her work in the areas of women’s rights, gender equality and adult education including distance education. She had been associated with important voluntary and academic organisations including PRIA, Creative Learning for Change, Ankur and PRIA Inter-national Academy. Her book Engendering the Workplace and her training manuals have been widely used in the work of several organisations relating to gender justice and equality. She died in very tragic circumstances in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan where she had gone for seminars on development and gender issues.

This year the award in the institutional category was received by Advocate Flavia Agnes on behalf of the Majlis Legal Centre (MLC), Mumbai. The MLC was started in 1991 as an all women’s organisation in response to a growing need for lawyers with a gender perspective and with a capacity for innovative legal interventions to defend the rights of women. So far the MLC has defended the over 50,000 women litigants all over Maharashtra in their struggle for justice against domestic and sexual violence.

The inaugural year award in the individual contribution category was received by Rakhi Gope for her 11 years of work against human trafficking and child marriages in several villages of West Bengal. She has received numerous threats in the course of her work but despite this she has continued this work with courage and conviction.

The award winners for this year were selected by an eminent jury comprising Shabana Azmi, Kamla Bhasin, Anuradha Das Mathur, Sushama Nath, Justice (Retd.) Ajit Prakash Shah and Anshul Tiwari.

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.

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