On the International Women's Day, President Ram Nath Kovind gave away Nari Shakti Puraskar,2018 to 40 women achievers, including scientists, social activists, artisans, food processors, acid survivors and from armed forces.
Among the award winners were designer of eco-friendly buildings Delia Narayan Contractor, Brahmakumari Sister Shivani, innovator of breast cancer screening device A Seema, cooperative bank founder Chetna Gala Sinha, reviver of crafts Lalita Vakil, international-level swimmer Meenakshi Pahuja, animal activist Mini Vasudevan, scientist Munuswamy Shanti, DD news anchor Neelam Sharma, environmental conservationist Nomita Kamdar, rural activist Pamela Chatterjee and Maharashtrian woman farmer Rahilbai Soma Popere.
But the loudest cheers went to first woman marine pilot Reshma Nilofer Naha, the only woman commando trainer in India Seema Rao and DRDO developer of bullet-proof jackets Ipsita Biswas.
The President gave away awards to 41 women achievers (one absentee) and three institutions.
Among those present at the function held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, were Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. Uttar Pradesh Minister for Women and Child Welfare Rita Bahuguna Joshi and an associate received the award for One Stop Centre (Sakhi) Lucknow, being run by the Uttar Pradesh government, for women affected by violence.
From honouring women achievers in various spheres, to renewed demand for reservation for them in legislatures, the International Women's Day saw a celebration of myriad roles played by females in the society and calls for more steps to ensure their empowerment.
In his message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the "indomitable Nari Shakti" and said every Indian is proud of the stupendous accomplishments of women in various spheres.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the "undaunted fighting spirit" of women and promised passage of the Women's Reservation Bill, in limbo for the last nine years
since being cleared by Rajya Sabha, if his party is voted to power. The Bill provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies.
"You must fight for your space and don't consider yourself lesser than a man... be it the Assembly, Lok Sabha or the business field," Gandhi said while interacting with women in Jeypore, Odisha.
Across the country, milestones, big and small, were in limelight. Madan Mahal railway station in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, turned 'pink', with all its operations being managed only by women staffers while a 190-year old heritage library in Kerala capital Thiruvanathapuram came out with a unique gift for women- an exclusive reading group to promote reading among women members, especially homemakers.
The Railways honoured Pushpa Sing, a 'Keyman' at Shyamchak station of South Eastern Railway's Kharagpur division, for "exemplary devotion to duty and for doing a job considered to belong to the male bastion". A mother of two and sole bread-earner for the family, 39-year-old Pushpa joined as 'Trackman' or track maintainer in 2006.
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Nari Shakti awards to 41 individuals and three institutions. Among the awardees were acid attack survivor turned activist Pragya Prasun, first woman marine pilot of India Reshma Nilofer Naha and only woman commando trainer in India Seema Rao.