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On International Women’s Day this year, President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Nari Shakti Puraskar on 29 women, in recognition of their exceptional work towards the empowerment of women, especially the vulnerable and marginalized. The recipients are from diverse fields such as entrepreneurship, agriculture, innovation, social work, education and literature, linguistics, arts and crafts, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, disability rights, merchant navy and wildlife conservation. Three of these award-winning personalities, who are catalysts of positive change in society.

  • Initiated in the year 1999.
  • The awards are given away by the President of India every year on 8 March, International Women’s Day.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development announces these national level awards for eminent women, organisations and institutions.


  • In the last decade, there has been concerted effort by the Government to recognise and encourage women as reflected through a National Policy for Empowerment of Women in 2001.
  • The issues related to women has gained utmost importance and focussed attention. “Nari Shakti Puruskars” shall showcase the Government’s commitment towards women with the aim of strengthening their legitimate place in the society.
  • It will also provide an opportunity to the current generation to understand the contribution of women in building of society and the nation.
  • “Nari Shakti Puruskars” would be conferred on eminent women and institutions rendering distinguished service to the cause of women especially belonging to the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society.
  • The recipients would be drawn from institutions and individuals.
  • The Ministry of Women & Child would invite nominations from the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, concerned Central Ministries, Non-Governmental Organizations, Universities, Institutions, private and public sector undertakings (PSUs) working for empowerment of women.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Open to individuals, groups and institutions for outstanding work towards empowerment of women.
  • Individual applicant must be at least 25 years of age.
  • Institutions must have at least 5 years of relevant experience.

Institutional categories:

Each of the six institutional categories is named after an eminent woman in Indian history.

  1. Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Award for Best Private Sector organization/ Public sector undertaking in promoting the well-being and welfare of women, named after Ahilyabai Holkar, 18th-century ruler of the Malwa kingdom.
  2. Kannagi Devi Award for Best State which has appreciably improved Child Sex Ratio (CSR), named after Kannagi, the central character of the Tamil epic Silapathikaram.
  3. Mata Jijabai Award for Best Urban Local body for providing services and facilities to women, named after Mata Jijabai, mother of Shivaji, who founded the Maratha Empire in the 17th century.
  4. Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award for Best Civil Society organization (CSO) doing outstanding work for the welfare and well-being of women, named after Rani Gaidinliu, a 20th-century Naga spiritual and political leader
  5. Rani Lakshmi Bai Award for Best Institution for Research & Development in the field of women empowerment, named after Lakshmibai, one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and erstwhile queen of Jhansi.
  6. Rani Rudramma Devi Awards for two District Panchayats and two Gram Panchayats, named after Rudrama Devi, a 13th-century ruler of Deccan Plateau.

Economic Empowerment:

  • Women in agriculture – ensuring land rights; inheritance / share in parental property; individual / group titles to women in all government land transfers; credit support to women to purchase or lease land; records and legal support for women inheritance rights.
  • Women in unorganized sector – provision of social security, leave, wages, working conditions, pensions, health benefits, maternity benefits, housing childcare, safety and occupational health etc.
  • Women in services sector where there is poor gender ratio, improving women’s participation, special tax incentives for women headed enterprises, women employees, women entrepreneurial ventures etc.
  • Promotion of skill development / vocational training/ training in traditional skills, and in other trades which promote employment of women especially in unorganized sector.
  • Construction/ Facilitating amenities for rural and urban poor women – toilets / housing / drinking water facilities.
  • Work towards promoting young talent in particular young entrepreneurs.
  • Working to promote women and girls in the field of science and technology
  • Demonstrates work and dedication in elevating the status of women in the society.

Social Empowerment:

  • Promotion of access to healthcare for women including mental health, empowerment through information regarding health, sexuality – institutional deliveries, preventive care for diseases etc.
  • Curbing violence/ discrimination against women – sexual, communal or sectarian – at homes, work places and public place.
  • Promoting value of girl child: improving child sex ratio.
  • Promotion of education of girls and women at all levels – bridging gender gaps.
  • Women and Media – Dissemination of women’s issues to make a positive impact on lives of women and girls, curtailing harmful effects of T.V on women’s lives through gender – informed media policy promoting – message of gender equity through positive programming and information dissemination on laws and schemes.
  • Working towards up-liftment of the vulnerable and disadvantaged, zero tolerance for discrimination against SC/ST women. Reaching out to marginalized and vulnerable women including minority women, women with disabilities and internally displaced women due to social strife.
  • Encourage women to hold leadership roles and promote women in decision making.
  • Have demonstrated ability to work with women and girls and men and boys as a team to work towards betterment of the society.
  • Effective implementation of women related legislations such as Dowry Prohibition Act, Domestic Violence Act, PC-PNDT Act and Immoral Traffic Act.
  • Contribution in Gender mainstreaming and strengthening delivery systems through State Commissions for Women, District Legal Service Authorities etc.
  • Have made efforts towards environment protection, promotion of art, culture and Indian heritage.
  • Positive actions carried out by villages/groups in favour of women & girls.