Recognizing The Efforts Of Our Extraordinary Women


Shahjahan - We are proud to announce that Shahjahan Mirza, fondly called Sajjo, has been selected as an awardee for the C. Subramaniam Award by National Foundation of India. She is one of the 8 awardees selected from a pool of 90 applicants. The award recognizes women doing exceptional work at the grassroots with women from Dalit and Muslim communities.

Shahjahan has been working with CORO for the last 5 years. From working in the largest and oldest dumping ground in India located at Shivaji Nagar, Govandi as a rag picker to having faced violence, abuse and neglect from her marital family, especially her husband; she has come a long long way. Today she works for the rights of women from her own community and in support of women who are facing the same things as she did. She often says, “Mere saath jo hua woh kisi aur ke saath nahi hona chahiye. Mujhpar par beeti hai tabhi toh main auro ka dukh samaj sakti hoon”. Apart from this, she fearlessly interfaces with the police and other system personnel, along with engaging with members from the community who oppose her work. She says that all the fear she had is over. Today, Shahjahan works as a Community Case Registration facilitator in 350 households of Shivaji Nagar area, counselling women who face violence and conducting programs around gender sensitization and social norms with each member of the family unit - girls, boys, women and men.

Laxmi and Anjum - Our happiness doubled on learning that our two incredible women Laxmi and Anjum have been selected as the Finalists in the Health category, amongst the total 15 finalists of the Woman Exemplar Program, 2020. Through the Woman Exemplar program, our leaders will get an opportunity to interact and work with a lot of like-minded women change makers.

Their entire process from filling the application form to getting shortlisted as finalists has been a roller coaster for both of them, as they revisited their days of fighting societal prejudices and moving past personal struggles, in order to contribute to the larger society. Laxmi is a part of our Single Women Issues campaign (Single women do not have access to education, employment or the option to lead an independent life. They are denied basic information about government support schemes meant to assist them in accessing identity documents, employment guarantees and bank accounts. In Single Women Issues campaign, we facilitate and empower single women to become leaders of social change in their own communities), and Anjum is a part of our Right to Pee campaign (A grassroots campaign advocating for free, clean and safe public urinals for women in Mumbai). In their application form, followed by multiple telephonic conversations and one-on-one interaction with the jury members, Laxmi and Anjum shared their journey at CORO and their way forward in working towards collective women’s health.

What next? An eminent jury will meet in New Delhi in March 2020 to identify three winners (one each in the categories of Education, Health and Micro-Entrepreneurship). The jury will comprise leaders from the corporate, media and the civil society sectors. The winners will be announced at a CII Special Session in April 2020 in New Delhi.

Recognition like this not only encourages the leadership of women like Shahjahan, Laxmi and Anjum, but also gives a boost to community based grassroots intervention that creates leadership from within.