CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program

08 Apr 2016

Women, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas, are deprived of access to resources and opportunities in comparison to their male counterparts and become victims of injustice. The same is highlighted in the fact that India is ranked at 127 out of 152 countries, on the Gender Inequality Index (GII).

As the marginalized women from grassroots try to overcome challenges and access the resources, she is pulled back due to illiteracy, lack of support from family and community, and various other factors. Thus, it is a constant struggle for these women to create a difference in their lives and those of others in the community.

The CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program promotes women empowerment at the community level by discovering, recognizing and supporting grassroot women who chose to look beyond their limitations and positively impacted their community. Since its inception in 2005, 35 grassroot women from 19 states have been recognized and further empowered. Various companies including ArcelorMittal India, Bajaj Group, Bharti Foundation, CISCO, HSBC, ICICI, JCB and SBI, have extended their supported to the program and exemplars.

The exemplars are further empowered to upscale and sustain their initiatives. The methods for empowerment include: assess and develop a road map for further expansion of the work already undertaken by the exemplar; enable and facilitate interaction and linkages to expand the existing value chain; provide mentoring and individual guidance to strengthen the leadership skills; build capacity to strengthen and put in place the systems and process that are necessary to expand the activity of work currently undertaken.

The CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Award 2016 was presented by Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, to three exemplary grassroot women leaders for their extraordinary contribution. Ms Kalpana Mistry, Ms Akila Sayyed and Ms Dalimi Rabha were conferred the CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Award in the fields of education, health and micro-enterprise respectively at the CII Annual Session held in New Delhi. Presented by Bajaj Group, powered by CISCO Systems and supported by JCB (in Education category), the Award included a cash reward of INR 3,00,000 to each exemplar.

Ms Kalpana Mistry received the Award for her commendable efforts in enabling education in the slums of Wadala, Mumbai. Abandoned and raised in an orphanage, Kalpana works in protecting women and children from harassment, trafficking and sexual abuse. She has rehabilitated over 6000 people, connecting them with different shelters and skill training institutes.

Ms Akila Sayyed received the Award for her yeomen efforts in providing basic healthcare services and ensuring the well-being of the marginalized in Pimperkhed village of Maharashtra.

Living with schizophrenia, Akila overcame personal odds and became the only health worker in her village, providing basic treatment to more than 4500 people for free.

Ms Dalimi Rabha received the award for her transformational leadership in enabling better livelihood and financial security of marginalized women in Goalpara district of Assam. Born in the backward Rabha tribe, Dalimi has become a successful entrepreneur and is also running a tailoring & embroidery training school for marginalized women. Among many women who received training from her school, over 800 are employed.

Selected by an eminent panel from Industry and social sector, the awardees were shortlisted by Institute of Financial Management and Research, due-diligence partner, from over 100 nominations received from grassroot NGOs across the country.

“CII salutes all the Exemplars. Each one of them is an inspiration. We are committed to support and grow this into a network of extraordinary women grassroot leaders across India.” Mr Sumit Mazumder, President, CII

“We feel privileged and proud to anchor the CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program. Over the last decade, we have seen the Exemplars grow and become change makers, inspiring and impacting lives of many more in the community.” Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII

“The Exemplars are a force to reckon with. Chosen through a rigorous selection process, they are true leaders and have set an example of how sheer grit, courage, determination and a little support can help transcend personal and social limitations.” Ms Rumjhum Chatterjee, Chair, Selection Committee, CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program and Group Managing Director & Head- Human Capital, Feedback Infra Pvt. Ltd.