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Three Indians, four NRIs win US women's empowerment award
Friday March 28, 2014 9:29 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

Three Indians and four persons of Indian origin have received the 2013 World of Difference Awards' from US-based The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) for their work for women's empowerment.

The 100 winners in different categories were presented the awards by TIAW president Lisa Kaiser Hickey at a ceremony here Thursday.

Abhay Khandagle, a Pune University professor of Zoology, has been recognised as "a champion for women's empowerment for the past 20 years".

He "has been teaching and designing courses for girl students who come from the rural and hilly areas to make them financially independent," according to the citation.

"As a member of Board of Studies, he has been instrumental in framing a curriculum that increases women's employability."

Aysha Rau, who founded The Little Theatre Trust in 1991 in Chennai to raise funds for her outreach programmes, has been given the award for a "Non-Profit/NGO".

"For the last 18 years, she has scripted and produced musicals and shows. Her outreach programmes include theatre workshops and spoken English classes for 200 underprivileged children on a weekly basis," the citation said.

Achyuta Samanta, founder of The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences KISS) in Odisha, has been recognised as a "Champion, Women's Economic Empowerment".

Starting with a small school in 1993 for the indigenous peoples in the region, KISS "has grown into the largest residential institute in the world for twenty thousand tribal children providing education, food, accommodation, clothing and health facilities absolutely free".

Among the Indian-origin winners is Namita Krul-Taneja from the Netherlands, who has been recognised for entrepreneurship.

Krul-Taneja has set up her own business, New Yardsticks, "which assesses and improves existing social-development programmes that help marginalised women and develops new programmes".

"She is also involved in WORK+SHELTER, an organization that provides fair-trade work for destitute women, some of whom also need a safe space to live" in New Delhi.

Mumbai-born Pervin Todiwala, co-founder and patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, has been recognised for entrepreneurship in Britain.

"She is a rarity as the 'quiet' half of one of the most dynamic and successful partnerships in the UK's male-dominated $3 billion Asian cuisine industry", the citation said.

She is also "a staunch supporter of women's business organisations, including City Women's Network, Women in Marketing and TIAW".

Vijayawada-born Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technology and strategy officer, from the US has been recognised in the corporate category.

"Warrior shares her knowledge as a mentor and coach, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math area (STEM), and has used her prominence to support other women following in her wake."

Originally from Guyana, Narine-Dat Sookram has been recognised as a "champion, women's economic empowerment" for his work in Canada.

Spending his own time and money "Sookram is dedicated to coaching women in business to give them the skills they need to be economically independent", according to TIAW.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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