On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Bagehel announced the launch of the "Chhattisgarh Veerni Awards" Established by Smart City, Raipur, under the leadership of Mayor- Raipur, Aijaz Dhebar, the list of the prestigious awardees was recently released by the Chhattisgarh Government.

The awards were conferred to women from different walks of life, who have set examples in the field of law, education, literature, history, music, business, sports, law enforcement, and social work. The awardees were picked from various parts of India and from the state of Chhattisgarh.

It is noteworthy that recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life, be it science, community, government, literature, art, sports or medicine has a huge impact on the creation of new opportunities for girls and young women across the nation. Setting the right examples and building aspirational role models, such as awards and recognitions instill within women from other backgrounds higher self-esteem. It also allows females to command greater respect among boys and men.

Let us meet the prolific women conferred with the Chhattisgarh Veerni Awards.

1. Rebecca Mammen John was recognized for her contribution to the field of law. Rebecca largely works in the arena of criminal defense as a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. She was involved in several landmark cases, including the 1987 Hashimpura Massacre, the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, and the Aarushi Murder Trial. Recently she defended Priya Ramani in the MJ Akbar case and came out victorious.

2. Ace sports person Dutee Chand was conferred the award for her contribution to the field of sports. A female sprinter of international repute, Dutee is currently the national champion in the women's 100 meters sport. She is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in a global 100-meter race and is also the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the Summer Olympic Games in the Women's 100-meter race.

3. Shubha Mudhal was recognized for her contribution to the field of music, art, and culture. A well-known Hindustani classical singer, Shubha excels at genres such as Khyal, thumri, and Dadra. The award recognizes her wide-ranging talent and commitment to preserving Hindustani Classical music's best practices, as well as her efforts to bring these traditions to a wider audience and train a new generation of Hindustani classical music practitioners.

4. Ameera Shah was conferred the award for her contribution to the fields of healthcare and women's entrepreneurship. Ameera along with her team has been praised as the Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare for their work in healthcare diagnostic services, handling of India's Covid-19 crisis, as well as her initiative that takes a variety of concrete measures to empower women. She is also the founder of the non-profit initiative Empoweress.

5. Yashica Dutt was given the award for her contribution to the field of Journalism. Yashica is a journalist and author whose writings on gender, identity, and caste have been influential not only because of their content but also because of the wide audience they have reached. "Coming out As Dalit" her first novel, weaves personal narrative with social commentary, exposing the crux of a vexing national issue to a wide reading audience.

6. Sabbah Haji was recognized for her contribution to the field of education. Sabbah Haji is the Director of a non-profit school, Haji Public School, established by her family in their ancestral village in Jammu and Kashmir's Doga district in 2009. Owing to the apathy of successive governments and militancy, she witnessed nearly two generations of villagers without education. She then considered establishing a school based on a particular educational model that has aided disenfranchised children in receiving a comprehensive education. In 2009, she founded Haji Public School (HPS) in Breswana.

7. Rana Safvi was given the award for her contribution to the field of history. Rana Safvi is a writer, historian, scholar, and translator and the author of Where Stone Speaks - a Historical Trails in Mehrauli. She has also written books like 'The Forgotten Cities of Delhi', and 'Tales from the Quran and Hadith'. She is also the translator of Syed Ahmad Khan's Asar us Sanadid and Zahir Dehlvi's Dastan-e-Ghadar and City of My Heart (4 accounts from the 19th and 20th centuries). She is also a passionate proponent of India's Ganga - Jamuna Tehzeeb, or syncretic culture, through writings, podcasts, videos, and social media forums.

Awardees hailing from the state of Chhattisgarh:

1. Budhri Taati for her contribution to the field of social service:  Budhri has dedicated her life to social service for the past 40 years and is recognized as ‘Badi Didi' (Big Sister). She lives and works in Dantewada, and every year she organizes the accommodation, schooling, and training for 50-60 children of age group 5 to 12 years. She also works to help women become economically self-sufficient, which she has done with 551 women so far (of which 55 have gone into the nursing and Anganwadi worker professions). She runs an ashram in which women and men over the age of 70 are looked after.

2. Keshkunwar Panika for her contribution to the fields of entrepreneurship and women's financial empowerment: During the pandemic, she employed 5000 people and produced 40,000 masks. She also continues to run self-help groups to help women become economically self-sufficient.

3. Amita Shriwas for her contribution to the field of sports: Shriwas, an Anganwadi worker in Champa, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak at 5895 meters, and the world's highest free-standing mountain. For five nights, she did so while bearing 25 kilograms. "Gadhbo Nava Chhattisgarh" (or "We Will Build A New Chhattisgarh") was the message she sent to the world after reaching the summit.

4. Lakshmi Karyare for her contribution to the fields of education and literature: She is a Dalit Poet and educator who has worked in varied fields including education, literature, and music, and has received awards for her work in education (the Chief Minister's Award) and literature (the Munshi Premchand Award).

5. Savita Awasthi for her contribution to the fields of law and legal literacy: Savita is a lawyer who organises legal aid camps and raises concerns about women's rights while working diligently to improve legal literacy. She defends women in need for free. She is also a member of the Women & Child Development Department's Child Welfare Committee, where she works to protect and uphold the rights of poor children.

6. Teejan Bai for her contribution to the field of performing arts: For several decades Teejan Bai has been performing the Mahabharata as an exponent of Pandavani, a classical art form from Chhattisgarh. Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award have all been bestowed upon her.

7. Ankita Gupta for her contribution to the fields of women empowerment and public service: Ankita is a female constable in the Kabirdham District Police Force who is involved in athletics and has represented Chhattisgarh in the police meet. She currently teaches karate to girls in Kawardha and prepares women for police recruitment.

In comparison to other Indian states, Chhatisgarh has the highest number of female MLAs in its legislature. The Chhatisgarh government is dedicated to promoting women's education, jobs, health, and social and economic independence, and has consistently implemented policies to that end.