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Kamala Power Women Awards: Championing Women Who Bring Change to Society

© Photo : Kamala Power Women AwardsAnanya Paul, Nidarshana Gowani, Meenakshi Lekhi
Ananya Paul, Nidarshana Gowani, Meenakshi Lekhi - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.03.2023
The Kamala Power Women Awards was held in New Delhi this week to spread awareness about the exemplary works of Indian women who bring change to society.
Nidarshana Gowani, the founder of Kamala Gowani Trust, is one of many Indian women who prove that a woman can do anything that she makes up her mind to do.
Gowani is also the managing director of a real estate company and a power generation plant which are part of the Kamala Group of Industries. Generally, real estate, power generation, clothing manufacturing and other businesses are major fields where men used to rule the roost. But Gowani has worked hard to shatter gender stereotypes and built a reputation for being a woman of steel.
In an interview with Sputnik, Gowani talked about her idea of female empowerment, the main objective of the Kamala Power Women Awards and the initiatives taken by her trust to boost women rights and prosperity.

Where Does Women's Empowerment Begin?

Sputnik: India is widely regarded as a traditional society, where male dominance is prevalent in most parts of the country. However, the idea of women empowerment is growing stronger, especially in the young generation. What is your perception of this idea?

Gowani: I believe that the real idea of women's empowerment is that first we have to start respecting women, start giving them equality and start appreciating them. Generally, people say that women are very fond of sarees, jewelleries, and so forth. However, as a working woman, I believe that they genuinely feel happy, satisfied and confident when you appreciate them, give them love and affection.

Sputnik: Despite so many years of independence, a lot of women fell victims to atrocities and suppression. Do you think that the current government’s initiatives towards women's empowerment are in the right direction?
Gowani: Well, I feel government is trying its best to empower women, make them independent and give them equality. However, I feel that as a woman we also have to respect ourselves. Until then, if we don’t start respecting ourselves we can’t make any sort of change.
In this Nov. 22, 2013 photo, a woman stands near her home at Vaishali village in the north Indian state of Bihar. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.03.2023
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Despite everybody striving for women's empowerment, I feel that women themselves have to stand united rather than pulling each other down. Women have to understand that if they need to bring about a change and be independent then they have to stand with each other and support each other.

Overcoming Preferential Treatment and Patriarchy

Sputnik: You are an inspiration for women who wish to make their mark in the world of entrepreneurship. How did you overcome social barriers, such as family commitments, fierce competition with men, preferential treatment, and patriarchy on your path to success?
Gowani: It’s really not easy and this is not only for me but for any woman who is working or doing something for society. But, with that said, I will give credit to my husband. See, I always say that to make a woman empowered you have to first make men empowered. So my father and husband empowered and supported me that is why I am here.
Therefore, we have to change the mindset since it will not change just like that. You cannot demand respect or you cannot misuse your respect but indeed if you really stand up for yourself then you are doing the right thing and you can stand somewhere.

I firmly believe that women have a lot of strength, they can multitask, but then they need support, especially from the family. It will not come in one day, but it happens gradually. It comes when women show confidence in themselves and [when you] show your family that you are doing the right thing.

Story of Kamala Power Women Awards

Sputnik: How did the idea of the Kamala Power Women Awards evolve and according to what critera did you select the awardees?
Gowani: I see a lot of awards are being given to women achievers across the country. So, one day I was just thinking that people are getting awards and they all are very well-known personalities. So, I wanted to make a change that's why don’t we recognize women who come from the ground level.
If you see the trophy we give, it is very different. There is a lotus and a woman standing on it. So, the Lotus resembles Goddess Laxmi and she is the one who gave birth to Goddess Kali and Goddess Saraswati. So, she is the root and she is Mother India too. Then, the woman standing on lotus has wings on both sides which resembles that she is also flying and taking other women also with her.

Therefore, I thought of selecting women who are working on the ground in various areas like tribal, education, health and others. We take six months to choose the changemakers. We go through everything they are doing and our jury also visits the places where they are working to see what they have done and how they have empowered themselves as well as other women around them and what change they have brought in society.

My vision behind giving this award is that I want to see these Kamala Power Women awardees getting Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. When they will be felicitated with the highest honors of the country, I will be really proud.
Sputnik: Can you elaborate on the other initiatives taken up by your trust regarding women's empowerment?
Gowani: This trust is 50 years old. We have schools and colleges where we educate girls and perform a lot of HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccinations for girls. Apart from this, we also carry out programs on cancer awareness. Addressing the health issues of women is very important because they don’t look after themselves. If they have a headache then will take some medicine and start working again.
Through our trust we just try to make them aware about their health and well-being. We do this because we believe that if women are able to keep themselves healthy they will keep the entire family healthy.
Besides health awareness, we do a lot to empower females like teach them different things so that they can earn money and bring change to society.