Speaking on the occasion, the President said we should remind ourselves that the empowerment of women and their equality, liberty and dignity are not a distant goal or fond aspiration of the women of our country. It is one of their sacred rights. It is not a privilege that they should seek. It has been a key element in the codes of conduct that our ancient societies prescribed for themselves more than 3000 years ago.
He also said that we must make the required effort to remove the structural and institutional barriers that inhibit the economic and social transformation of women in India.
The President congratulated the winners of Stree Shakti and Nari Shakti Puruskars and appreciated the efforts of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for encouraging the distinguished awardees to work towards a noble cause.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi thanked the President for honouring the awardees of Stree Shakti Puraskars and Nari Shakti Puraskars. She said that every year we observe 8th of March as International Womens Day when we celebrate womanhood and the contribution of women to the world. She also said that this year the Government has decided to further recognize the singular contribution of women in specific areas by way of Nari Shakti Puraskars. The Zila Mahila Sammnas and Rajya Mahila Sammnas have also been instituted this year to recognize and reward selfless work done by exceptional and committed women, in particular at the community and grass root levels, she said.
Smt Maneka Gandhi said that the Prime Minister launched Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme on January 22, 2015 which aims to reverse the decline in the child sex ratio. The Government is setting up one stop crisis centres for women in distress which will be connected by a universal womens helpline, she added. The Minister also proposed 33% reservation for women in police. In another measure to tackle crimes against women, Smt Maneka Gandhi also proposed appointment of women as Special Police Officers who will work as honorary police women and provide interface between the police force and the women affected by violence.
The Stree Shakti puraskars are conferred to six womenin the area of womens endeavor and exceptional contribution each year. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 300,000 and a citation. Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Award has been given to Anyay Rahit Zindagian NGO of Goa, Seema Prakash of Madhya Pradesh got Rani Lakshmibai Award, Astha Sansthan (NGO) of Rajasthan has been awarded Rani Rudramma Devi Award), Smt. Chandraprabha Bokey from Maharashtra has been conferred Mata Jijabai Award, Dr. P Bhanumati of Kerala gets Kannagi Award, Sister while Mariola from Rajasthan has been conferred Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award.
The Nari Shakti Puraskarshave been conferred for the first time this year. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 100,000 and a citation. They have been instituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to honour8 women to recognize theirindividual contribution in specific areas. This years awardees are: Smt. Rashmi Anand (Delhi), Dr. Nandita Krishna (Tamil Nadu), Dr. Laxmi Gautam (Uttar Pradesh), Ms. LatikaThukral (Haryana), Ms. Neha Kirpal (Delhi), Dr. Sailakshmi Balijepally (Tamil Nadu), Ms. P.Kousalya (Tamil Nadu), Dr. Swaraj Vidwan (Uttarakhand).