Celebrating Womanhood South Asian Region Recognition 2008

The first Celebrating Womanhood South Asian Recognition 2008 is being awarded to women striving to bring about breakthrough changes in the sector that is most needed by that particularly country.

The south Asian woman is compassionate, loving, kind, generous, honest, works long and hard hours regardless of the economic status of her family. She is challenged every day by society norms and traditions that do not always provide the nurturing environment to encourage her fulfill her inherent dreams. However, South Asian Women have the will and resolve to fight against man made prejudice and socio culture barriers to overcome the obstacles created by natural disasters, economic and political upheavals to achieve peace in the country and the nation as a whole.

Celebrating Womanhood is based on recognizing the strengths of woman and celebrating their achievements.

Celebrating Womanhood South Asian Recognition aims to encourage sharing and leading from the experiences, skills , knowledge and wisdom of exemplary women of South Asia.

NAHID BASHARDOST for her contribution in Afghanistan

Still suffering from the ravages of being war torn, the greatest challenge for the people of Afghanistan has been to maintain their cultural identity.

Nahid Bashardost has chosen to explain Afghani culture through her writings. She is a poet who renders the deepest feelings of her people. She is a novelist par excellence who has meticulously spun tales of Afghani culture and a new reporter who has always been on the forefront when it comes to reporting clear, unbiased and hard core news. She has fearlessly brought up the issue of violence against women in Afghani newspaper and magazine despite threats to her own life. She is also deeply interested in researching and studying Afghani civilization and culture. Her findings are often reflected in her works which have become a valuable source of information of Afghani culture.

During the taliban rule, Nahid even got beaten because of her endeavors to teach girls to read and write. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in archaeology and believes that the youths need to be sensitized to preserve Afghani culture.

Some of her prominent Published works are:

  1. A book titled Gada(beggar) which portrays the life of a poor woman in society who after failing into a series of trouble manages to change her destiny forever.
  2. Payamber-e-Meher(Messenger of devotion) and Shabhai-e-Pursetara.
  3. Khaterat-e-Nagar(Memories at a glance) a literature piece exclusively for the youth.

SYEDA RIZWANA HASAN for her contribution to environment in Bangladesh

An extremely courageous woman, Syeda Rizwana Hasan is a pioneer in environment justice. She has led successful flights against many important environment issues in Bangladesh and has played a leading role in securing judicial commitment to Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Bangladesh which is an effective legal tool for protecting environment rights.

She has tirelessly worked as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and as the Director of the Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) to protect Bangladesh’s environment and the country's sensitive natural resource base. BELA gives legal assistance to particularly vulnerable people who suffered from environmental offences but otherwise have no access to the justice system.

Some of her cases have resulted in landmark orders and judgments and are contributing to defining the values of environment justice in Bangladesh. Under her guidance, BELA is now involved in arranging regular training for judges, government officials, lawyers, NGO's journalists, academia, school teachers, Local government agencies and others.

Rizwana has researched and edited books on judicial decisions and laws regulating Environment in Bangladesh. Editor of the quarterly publication of BELA including the parliament bulletin, Rizwana is also the author of the Bangladesh chapter for the yearbook of International Environment Law, a yearly publication from the USA. 


CHIMI WANGMO for her contribution to Economic Empowerment in Bhutan
Economic Empowerment lies not in amassing and expanding ones wealth but in ensuring that every citizen lives with dignity.
With her commitment, pro-activeness and resolve to reach out to the poorest of the poor, Chimi Eangmo has set examples that are exemplary and worthy od replicating. Having to trek through dense forest, cross over high passes and rapid rivers did not deter her from reaching the remotest communities. She was instrumental in initiating the International Fund for Agriculture Development through NWAB. Replicated from the Grameen bank module, the loan scheme became highly popular among women in the eastern districts of Bhutan. With repayment rate at 100%, the program was replicated by the Bhutan Development and Finance Corporation.
As the Executive Director of RENEW which stands for Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women, she continues making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged women particularly victims of family violence and sexual abuse. She believes has the will to lend each other a supporting hand.
Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath for her contribution to social harmony in India

Dr. Gopinath needs to introduce when it comes to extraordinary contribution to the field of women’s education and empowerment and the important role she plays in fostering the culture of peace.

Under her able guidance, Lady Shri Ram College of India has grown to become the best institution of higher learning for women. She has held the position of the principal of the college since 1988 and has worker to mould it as a center of excellence which seeks to educate women to assume position of leadership in society. She introduced the first of its kind Conflict Resolution Studies at the University and setup the center for Peace building at Lady Sri Ram College.

As the Founder and Honorary Director of WISCOMP (Women in Security Conflict Management and Peace), Dr. Gopinath inspires commitment to promote the national, regional and global leadership of Asian women in the areas of international politics, peace, security and diplomacy.

Dr. Gopinath’s interests include classical art forms, Buddhist philosophy, theatre and education. She remains humble and simple despite being conferred many prestigious awards; the Padma Shri Award among several others.

Dr. Gopinath remains committed and continues to develop new initiatives for fostering peaceful coexistence between communities to strengthen social harmony. Truly a woman to inculcate and revere…..

Dr. Meena Singh Khadka for her contribution to education in Nepal

Dr. Meena Singh Khadka has worked untiringly in her campaign to educate and make education accessible to all in Nepal.

25 years ago she developed the Radio educational curriculum for Grade 1 to 3. She visited and worked in as many as 50 districts of Nepal to enable her to develop the curriculum that is still recognized for its innovativeness. During her visits to the villages, she noticed women were being cheated due to their inability to read and write. This inspired her to start women’s education classes in Ghandrung. She also introduced Braille to the visionless rural women, some of whom are now graduates in different faculties.

7 years ago she repaired a little mud hut in a village close to Pokhara and began a school with 13 children. Today that school provides education to 700 children.

In 2005 she started the process of helping 101 women from low income families to begin reading and writing. Today 3500 women’s lives have improved because of Meena’s dedicated commitment to education.

Although she continues to be invited to teach in prestigious institutions in India, Pakistan, the Congo, Japan and the USA, her heart belongs to Nepal. She supports the education of 250 girls and utilizes her own resources on education programs in Nepal. She has received no support or encouragement from the government. Her initiatives have been started and continue at her own initiative.

Meena believes that society and the nation becomes educated only when a woman is educated. Her vision is to make at least a hundred thousand women literal through her initiatives.

Nafisa Shah for her contribution to exemplary governance in Pakistan

Her career is unique and remarkable with several landmark achievements on her journey from journalist to politics.

Her in-depth research on honor killing in Sindh drew the attention of the world. She set new standards for integrity in her conflict-torn and crime-ridden district as the district Nazim. As one of the two women to head a district in Pakistan, she led oppressed and poor women in dealing with injustice and made khairpur a model of community-supported development.

Nafisha has made an outstanding contribution to education. Without her support and guidance, it would have been impossible for LEAD to launch the ESRA/USAID funded education program DEMO (Democratized Education Management and Ownership) that today works with 3000 schools in Sindh

She is among the 1000 outstanding women in the world.

She was nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for remarkable administrating the District Khairpur as Nazima that according to the citation is ‘an almost exclusively male domain’. Her nomination is a testimony to the incredible work that Nafisa has done for the marginalized people of her community.

To work tirelessly for cause like social development and educational empowerment one needs to be a core enthusiast who believes in reformation and social work. Nafisha is one such personality who continues in her pursuit of a better future for her people. Commitment to profession, belief, ideals and goals shines through action.

Pearl Stephen for her contribution to peace in Sri Lanka

Conflict ceases when differences cease; Differences cease when quality reigns.

One woman made it her life’s mission to work towards the establishment of peace and harmony; for a better tomorrow; for a wholesome peaceful world. Her dream has today become a significant part of Sri Lanka’s initiative towards peace in the form of WDC- the Women’s Development Centre.

WDC was born out of the meeting that Pearl initiated back in the late 70’s in the garage of her pastor husband’s church. It started with the contribution of Rs.20 per head per month. Today WDC is a flourishing and growing entity in nine districts of Sri Lanka

Primary activities of WDC among action to combat violence against women consist of Rehabilitation of girls who are subject to sexual abuse; provide Special Education to children who are differently abled; Community Based Rehabilitation; Vision Program; Community Development & Awareness Program; Networking; Kantha Magazine; Creative Writing; Leadership Training and Advocacy.

Pearl’s most significant role has been in the rehabilitation of the 2004 Tsunami Victims by supplying them immediately with food, clothing and temporary dwelling facilities.