We, at SRL Diagnostics, believe in the power of the woman – her ability to create, nurture and transform the lives around her. While every woman is remarkable in her own way, there are those who have survived the worst and bounced back stronger; those who have broken the glass ceiling and gone beyond conventions and stereotypes; those who have challenged and changed the definition of what it means to be a woman in today’s day and age.
Every year, SRL Diagnostics’ Women of Substance award recognizes those who have managed to survive the odds, had the courage to challenge society’s norms and inspired millions of other women to follow their path. If you know such a woman and you believe her story is worth sharing with the world, you can nominate her for the Women of Substance 2017 award right here.
Who can you nominate?
Or, it could be anyone whose story makes us want to believe that there’s nothing unstoppable about her!
When does the contest close?
All nominations for the Women of Substance award must be made by 15th February 2017. The awards will be announced in the first week on March.
The nominated woman should be a resident of India.
With roots in India, Anna was born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates. Presently she works as a programme officer in communications at Maitri India, a New Delhi based Non-profit working with vulnerable populations in India including women at risk of facing gender--‐based violence, destitute and elderly women/widows, migrant workers, underprivileged communities and those affected by HIV/Aids.
Anna has a background in Mass Communication with much experience in event planning and community service. At Maitri she is responsible for managing all communication platforms, crowd funding and donor relationships. This includes creating & developing all communications and Information, educational, communication material, giving creative direction and managing Maitri's entire online content. Furthermore she also handles Maitri's social media platforms to establish and maintain dialogue with stakeholders and coordinates Maitri's internship programmes.
Lastly, Anna assists in putting together Maitri's events and also maintains donor relations with individuals and corporations for the purpose of acknowledging financial or in kind support. As a project leader on GlobalGiving, a crowd-funding platform, Anna has single handedly raised close to USD 80,000 for Maitri's projects.
Besides her present job Anna has also been a freelance graphic designer for over 6 years and worked with youth groups in the United Arab Emirates to bring hope and inspiration through events, mentoring & leadership trainings. What she loves about her job is being able to empower others through hope in ways that are creative and educational.
"The most common form of despair is not being who you are" ; the girl who wanted to be an air hostess is living in darkness since last ten years, finding a place for herself, fighting with the society and seeking for her identity... Sonia Chowdhary (29) resides in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. She took help of the neighbour Anurag(accused) to buy a cell phone. He bought a stolen cell phone and gave it to her. After few days police rang Sonia and asked her from where did she get this phone.. she told the whole story to the policeman and the accused was in lock up for whole one night. Next day when the attacker was out from lockup, he approached Sonia and asked her to apologise, when she denied to apologise, he just went to her father and had a combat with him. He attacked her on 12th may 2004 just 15 to 20 steps from her place. She was an employee in VLCC parlour. That day she was walking long down the road, naive of the fact that an evil soul is waiting to destroy her life. The accused threw five litres of acid on the brave lady Sonia. According to doctors she had 55% disfigurement on her body. She is left with never going scars that are given by her 'bhaiya'.
The accused passed away just after six months of the incident. He paid for what he did. But the justice she got wasn't the one she wanted. Justice does not mean punishment to the culprit under certain sections of IPC but in veracity it means acceptance in society. Lying in DARK she wonders how she will survive now, how she will bear the treatment expenses , while she regularly fights for a daily square of meal.
Her Father Mr. Raghubeer chowdhary , was a Tea vendor , he left his little princess in the gloomy world. The only hand which she used to hold in her grief is now resting in heaven. She is the elder one among all, she carried the responsibilities on her shoulders from a very young age, she was the helping hand to her father in running the home expenditures. She was a mother to her younger brothers and sisters, a friend to her mother and a responsible citizen to our country.
"God cannot be everywhere and that is why he created mothers" – a jewish proverb
One and a half-year-old Sania was fast asleep in her cozy mattress. Pooja stood close to her and enjoyed tucking her into the blanket now and then. She seemed like waiting for her to wake up, so that they can play. Taarika (1.5) and Maanshi(4) were playing at the backyard. They were pushing their toy car while Pinky, their caretaker, was carrying Aryan (8months) and supervising the household work.
The cloth lines were filled with clothes, and Chotu was rinsing another set of them in the wash room. Loppa was preparing dough for dinner while Poonam was cutting vegetables. The home was spic and span, and everybody was busy with their own work. Anjina welcomed us with her warm smile. "This is where my 46 children live" she says.
The children on hearing Anjina's voice came running towards her, and she spontaneously cuddled them. "Most of the children have come into our homes as infants. We only admit children who are below ten years of age. Our youngest child is Aryan who is eight months old. Children who are abandoned by their parents, and those who have lost their way home are brought to us by the Police. We try our best to trace their families and reunite them," says Anjina.
Anjina hails from a well-to-do family in Bellary. She had a passion for children since she was 10 years old. She was deeply touched by the sight of children beating drums and carrying notebooks, walking down the streets, knocking at every door, collecting donations for the orphanage they lived in. Her family moved to Sandur and later to Delhi in 1976 to get over a personal tragedy. She took up a job, and in 1983 moved to Noida.
For more than ten years, Rajni has been a volunteer with CanSupport, a non-governmental organization in Delhi, India that supports people with cancer. She was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in the year 2003-4. Now a facilitator for the peer support group, Rajni also volunteers at CanSupport's Day Care meant for those going through their cancer journey as well as their family members. The CanSupport Telephone Helpline also refers cancer patients to her for psycho social support on a regular basis and lends emotional support to those living at a considerable distance over the mail or telephone.
CanSupport has been organizing a Walk for Life for the last eight years to raise awareness about cancer. The focus of its first Walk in the year 2008 was on breast cancer in view of the increasing incidence of breast cancer in urban India. Free breast cancer awareness, screening and detection camps were organized throughout Delhi as part of the awareness campaign preceding the Walk in collaboration with other agencies and Rajni along with other volunteers worked to spread the message of the importance of early detection.
She assisted in developing the communication material disseminated at these camps, featuring in Radio talks on cancer as well as participated in many television programmes focusing on cancer with a view to spread awareness about cancer and dispel any fear or stigma related to it.
Rajni also helped compile a book titled Touching Lives based on CanSupport's work in the field of palliative care and a booklet with recipes titled “Eating well when you have cancer” that contains information on nutrition and healthy diet for cancer patients.
The road to becoming a driver has been full of hurdles for Omkari, but she has emerged strong and confident through it all. A resident of East Delhi, she has four children to take care of. While training, her regular day, which started at 04:30 am, included cooking, cleaning, washing and the training, after which she went home and took care of the children. Despite facing criticism from the neighbours, she had the support of her husband and though slowly, she was successful in completing her training and joining Sakha.
Today, she is a successful commercial driver and one can see her driving all around the city even at late hours of the night. Her hard work, positive attitude and commitment have made her independent along with being a welcome support for the family.
Sultana's family was a well off middle class family yet the thinking of her father was very narrow as he believed that women should not be educated and given liberty. Her mother died while she was still young and her father remarried.
Sultana who wanted to study further had taken admission in BA but soon after that she was married off to the son of the Tahsildar of Warangal Subedari. The in-laws cheated by claiming that he was a Fashion Designer but in reality he was a lazy and an ego-centric man with no job in hand either. He was also known to be mentally unstable which the family had hidden from Sultana's parents at the time of the marriage.
Just after they got married she decided to make a living and set up a tailoring shop which she took on lease. Seeing her flourish he started getting jealous due to which he would avenge her physically and sexually. Due to this her condition deteriorated and was hospitalized for a month. During her stay at the hospital her husband leased out her tailoring shop without her consent.
Soon after this she became pregnant and in the 8 th month of her pregnancy she faced the worst moment of her life; her husband cut off her nose. She was immediately admitted in the hospital but her condition was extremely critical due to which she went into coma. She came back from coma after 21 days and soon after which she delivered a baby boy. By then the news of her condition reached several media houses and women activist immediately stood for her support. The in-laws who had come to take away the baby boy were snubbed away by the police, media and the women activists.
She started juggling between two hospitals for resurrection of her face. Her own family abandoned her as well and infact her father insisted her on getting back with her husband as no one would marry her after seeing her face.
Sultana took up the job of an attender at Osmania General Hospital where she was being treated for her facial resurrection and worked there for 7 months. In the 7th month she was monitored by her doctors to see how she recovers and how much can was able to cope and take care of her child as well.
Soon after she stayed with her brother and her sister-in- law for seven months under house arrest, as they feared that Sultana would file a case against the families.
She managed to convince her brother to let her attend tailoring classes where Shaheen Welfare members found her. After a lot of counseling she decided to move out of her brother's house and stay independently along with her son.She suffered 14 years of violence from her in-laws, her own family and the community people; went through 8 plastic surgeries which were each almost 8 to 9 hours long. After so many struggles she is now a free and independent woman with a son to take care of.
She is an internationally-certified Life Coach, holistic healing therapist and motivational speaker and writer and prospective author. She completed her Masters in Psychology and Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration with a Major in Finance and HR. She has also been certified and licensed as a Project Management Professional from USA. She worked in the corporate sector for about 13 years and eventually retired while at the peak of her career as AVP.
She realized that her passion was to help people recognize their true potential and also know the limitation of their power. She learnt that giving motivational talks was not enough. So, she studied the mind and learnt therapies that would help others let go of their fears and limiting beliefs. She has been trained in over 50 different therapies and courses which are either holistic healing or self- help courses such as life coaching, business coaching, Silva's UltraMind ESP, Law of Attraction, Heal Your Life, Beyond the Alpha Brain, hypnotherapy, past life regression, inner child therapy, re-birthing breathwork, magnified healing, Pranci Healing-Arhat Yogi, Reiki Grandmaster and more.
She is the founder of Energy Healing Bliss & Helping Hands. She has been practising the above modalities since 2006 however she started to talk about it openly and publicly after she resigned from her last job in 2010. She has been teaching these techniques and holding workshops post 2010.
She is an Iranian by birth, however, she in no religion and no nationality. She believes she is a global citizen and everywhere she goes is her home. She comes from an affluent, however extremely dysfunctional, family in Iran where both her brothers and even mother were her responsibility due to ongoing parental and emotional challenges. Her siblings and she had to stand on their own feet as early as the age of 17 and that is how they all became very independent. She also went through two physically and emotionally abusive relationships.
She started the charity work in 2008, where she concentrates on acid attack victims, marriages of poor girls, under privileged children and women who have been victim of abuse. She raised funds and she now has a family of 10-15 strangers.
In 2016 Helping Hands organized 4 events - celebrated Christmas with under privileged children, celebrated New Years with 180 inmates of Prabh Aasra (home for the retarded and elderly), a 'langar' for 400 people and another 'langar' to provide warm food at night to the homeless. They are now raising funds for acid attack victims.
Renu Mathur was ditched by her business partner and suffered a loss of crores. She couldn't bear her basic expenses and had no one to help her.
She decided to help every needy woman in trouble. By profession she is a divinatory. She started a helpline for women especially acid attack suffererers, female dowry victims and victims of humiliation and domestic violence.
Shahnaz Begum aged 21 years old is a home maker. She has four brothers and two sisters. When she was studying in 8 th standard Rashad, one of the agents came to her grandmother and brought a marriage proposal. Rashad said that the Sheiks came here for the marriage and her daughter has to take care of children. By listening to the proposal, her parents forced her for the marriage.
One sheik out of four who was 57-years- old selected her for the marriage. The Sheik gave Rs. 20,000/- to her mother and Rs. 50,000/- to the agent and the Quazi.
After 15 days he married her and stayed with her for five months. She came to know that he had eight wives and she was the ninth one. He used to physically and mentally harass her for sexual purposes.
Her parents asked her to take the decision of Khula and supported her. After taking Khula she lived with her family but they also started harassing her. Vexed by her family's behavior she agreed for a second marriage with Syed Nazeer Miya. He was working as a SI in Hyderabad.
After the marriage Syed Nazeer Miya's first wife started harassing Shahnaz. After this, she decided to take khula. But, unfortunately, the family members started harassing her. They wanted her to marry someone and to leave the home, so that they can live happily. She was pregnant and because of the frequent beating, tension and harassment she aborted the child.
Now, she doesn't want to get married again. She wants to continue her education and wants to have computer training. She wants to enjoy rest of the life independently.
She is HIV-positive who lost her husband to AIDS in 2005 when she was just 23. Her husband was the sole earning member of their family.
When she discovered that she and her kids were HIV-positive her family left her alone, a widow with three children and no money. She moved to Chandigarh for treatment and started looking for a job. When she used to visit PGI with her kids' technicians people would ask her a lot of private questions. She decided to come forward and to help others like her.
President of Right Way Child & Women Welfare Society, an NGO. She is working for the welfare of women and children since 1989. She also works for providing education and food to slum children. She owns a parlour where she gives free training to girls and helps them become financially independent. She doesn't get funds from the government or any other community but spends her own money for the upliftment of poor children and women. She helps rape survivors and help them fight their case with their legal advisors. She has conducted 11 weddings so far on her own expense.
Rajinder Rozy, born on 2 August, 1956 in Patiala, is a famous personality in the field of literature. Rozy belongs to a middle class family. Her father was a vegetable seller and mother was a less educated homemaker. Rozy was in class 11 when she translated Kamayani and she could not continue her study after 11 th but it was because of her hard work that she learned Hindi, English, Punjabi, Sanskrit and Urdu. She wrote her first poem 'Raat meri soyi, Tumhara khayal Jaga' while still a teenager. At the age of 20, she got married and continued writing even though her family did not support her. She published her first book 'Main Phool Banke Avangi' in Punjabi language in 1989. After four years, she wrote her second book 'Sagar de Kol' in 1993. Rozy wrote more than 500 poems and has translated numerous poems and books in different languages. She translated Jai Shankar Prasad's Kamayani in Punjabi and was recognized by the Punjab Language Department.
Rozy started a literature column 'Naviyaan Kalma' in Lok Sampark Vibhag Punjab's magazine 'Jagriti'. Rozy's accolades include recognition from Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Allahabad, Punjabi Kavi Mandal, Noorpuri Literature Sabha Mohali, Punjabi Yuvak Munch Patiala and many more. At the age of 60, she also worked for social welfare. She has been associated with 'Simmi Marwaha Memorial Charitable Trust' as Managing Trustee for 12 years. She is also the life member of 'Indian Red Cross Society' and runs a trust named Marwah, in which TB patients are taken care of.
A 25-year- old woman from Tenali, a town in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, Lavanya, got married to a management trainee in a software company from Hyderabad, who is physically challenged. Studied till the 10 th standard, she stopped her further education due to the death of her mother, since she had to take care of her younger brother and younger sister. When her father passed away, her paternal relatives arranged her marriage through a matrimonial agency. About 2 lakhs worth gold ornaments and silver was given to the bride's groom during the marriage.
After staying with her in-laws for 5 days, her mother in-law sent her back to her maternal home. She was anxious about her husband's health as he was not well when she had left. She took her brother's friend's mobile phone to call her husband.
She didn't anticipate any trouble and was happy that she could talk to her husband, but when she returned to his house she was blamed by him, saying that he received abusive messages from the mobile she used to call him. He also alleged that she has had physical relations with other men before marriage and has gone through many abortions. Shocked by this, Lavanya tried to convince her husband that there were no such relations and begged him to believe her. The husband got convinced, but her in-laws were still suspecting and started ill-treating her. They even started to physically abuse her and in spite of her husband trying to stop them, they continued.
After a couple of months, she was sent back to her maternal home since her husband was preparing for his Law exams and he also didn't want to give his parents and siblings another chance to abuse her. She waited for her husband's call, but in vain. Waiting for more than a month, her maternal uncle and her brother brought her to her in-laws house and wanted to question them about the scars she had when she reached home. But her husband and in-laws did not allow either Lavanya or her relatives to enter the premises. Moreover, they made a police complaint against them.
The neighbors tried to intervene and talk to her husband's family, but failed. Feeling dejected with the situation, Lavanya tried to commit suicide that night but was rescued by the police. The next morning, one of her neighbors called on our Helpline and informed us about the matter. The Director and the Counselor went there and spoke to Lavanya, bringing her to the Bhumika office. Shelter was provided along with counseling support. On the following day, the counselor took them to Chikkadapally Police Station and helped in filing the case.
Lavanya was in depression again. She sent an SMS to her neighbor in Hyderabad, saying that she was feeling terribly upset and was going to commit suicide. She also mentioned that her husband had filed a case against her. The neighbor forwarded the SMS to Bhumika's Director. Bhumika called Lavanya and talked to her to give confidence and tried to build trust by convincing her, that the entire Bhumika family is with her in this fight for justice. Relieved by this, Lavanya decided to come to Hyderabad to reconstruct her life with confidence and fight back the allegations made against her.
Our counselors used to visit the shelter home in Hyderabad on a regular basis with enough support from the Home managers. She was accompanied to Nampally Women Police Station by them to attend the prescribed counseling sessions. Her husband and in-laws were also called for counseling but it didn't help much as the husband continued to believe that the mistake was Lavanya's. After the unfruitful counseling sessions, Lavanya decided to file a case of Domestic Violence against her husband's family. She was thus taken to the Protection Officer and was supported by all means in the further proceedings. The effort is still ongoing.
Bhumika provided her with clothing and other necessities. She received the legal expenditure. Considering her need and education qualifications, she has been appointed as Office Assistant in the Bhumika office. Bhumika is motivating her to pursue her education through the Open University system.
She was able to concentrate on starting afresh. Lavanya is actively participating in the activities at Shelter Home. She is now earning and is able to pay the fee at Shelter Home. She is also supporting her brother by sending money to their family needs and for treatment of her grandfather. She is no longer a victim but a survivor of violence and a role model to many such women.
Within 2 months, she has built her self-esteem, developed leadership qualities, improved knowledge and communication skills. She has become a dynamic personality, not only in supporting the other women, but also acts as a counselor. She is spreading awareness on acts like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, etc by gathering knowledge from Bhumika.
Lavanya says that her dream is to "witness a violence free and women friendly society. She suggests that there should be a speedy justice to enable women to lead a life with dignity".
Sujatha Burla was born in Bellampalli in Andhra Pradesh. She was passionate about photography and got involved in the photography business at a very young age. In 2001, she met with a serious car accident while going to Shirdi. She escaped death but suffered a spinal cord injury. After 3 years, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (VRC), she started a textile business with 2 people. Within 6 months she could run the unit with 10 people. With this textile business she helped many unemployed and unprivileged women. She started an NGO called "Shraddha" to help people. And was called to motivate people in the corporate sector. She was even invited to be a part of a faculty session for ISRO & NASA scientists in ASCI (Administrative Staff College of India). In this regard she was awarded “Naveena Neti Mahila“ by a leading news channel. She participated in marathons and blood donation camps. She started her new career as an anchor in leading news channel TV9 in a show called Close Encounter with Suzy. She has successfully completed 40 episodes and is doing another show Varadhi.
Sujatha Burla was born in Bellampalli in Andhra Pradesh. She was passionate about photography and got involved in the photography business at a very young age. In 2001, she met with a serious car accident while going to Shirdi. She escaped death but suffered a spinal cord injury. After 3 years, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (VRC), she started a textile business with 2 people. Within 6 months she could run the unit with 10 people. With this textile business she helped many unemployed and unprivileged women. She started an NGO called "Shraddha" to help people. And was called to motivate people in the corporate sector. She was even invited to be a part of a faculty session for ISRO & NASA scientists in ASCI (Administrative Staff College of India). In this regard she was awarded "Naveena Neti Mahila" by a leading news channel. She participated in marathons and blood donation camps. She started her new career as an anchor in leading news channel TV9 in a show called Close Encounter with Suzy. She has successfully completed 40 episodes and is doing another show Varadhi.Ruchika met with an accident which crippled her and made it almost impossible for her to walk, but she went ahead to study at Indian School of Business, hosted more than 700 cookery shows and challenged the world by walking the ramp at beauty pageants and pocketed many coveted tittles. Her spirit to fight is infectiously inspiring. After meeting with an accident at the ORR in December 2012, she was very keen on finishing the entrepreneurship course at ISB. She got admission and had won the award for the best business plan. Ruchika won the crowns of Mrs India Hyderabad International 2014 and Mrs South Asia at the Crown Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, Atlanta. She has now started an NGO called as Being Women.
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