President Pranab Mukherjee presented the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2011 to Ela Ramesh Bhatt of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
Congratulating Bhatt, the President said her life and work is truly reflective of the philosophy and ideals espoused by Late Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi.
"The prize bestowed upon Bhatt is a tribute to her unflinching zeal towards the betterment of women in society and progress of humanity," he added.
Mukherjee said Bhatt's example would spur many more initiatives in our country and elsewhere, aimed at renewal of society and all-round development of people.
The President further said if women are under represented in the productive efforts of our economy, it is not only injudicious but also detrimental to the cause of social progress.
"The gender disparity in our country can be remedied only through pro-active intervention in areas such as economic empowerment of women, building of adequate social and physical infrastructure and improving women's role in governance. Empowerment of women is the key to not only meeting the objective of gender equality but also to elicit full participation from all our citizens in nation-building," he added.
The President said we must strengthen the systems and processes that facilitate women to take control and claim ownership of their lives.
"To lend true meaning to empowerment, we have to expand their freedom of choice. As poor women are often incapacitated to act individually, social mobilization for their economic redemption is a critical necessity," he added.
Dignitaries who attended the event included Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. (ANI)