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Women's World Summit Foundation has shortlisted three women from Ekta Parishad for their contribution in improving the quality of life in rural communities. WWSF's annual awards are given to creative and courageous rural women leaders and groups that help to advance and improve the quality of life in rural communities.
According to WWSF statement, of ten selected candidates, three laureates are from Ekta Parishad, nominated by IGINP Cesci – the International Gandhian Institute of Non-violence, India. The three laureates participated in the one-year Jai Jagat march from India to Geneva starting in 2019. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the march was interrupted in Armenia and postponed to continuing in 2021 so as to terminate the march in Geneva as a wake-up call to respond to the world’s deepening economic, social and environmental crises. The campaign is an urgent appeal for people to transform and achieve one planet for all people.

The tribal populations of India are among the most despised inhabitants of the country. Uikey Saraswati belongs to Gond tribe. She comes from a very poor family of laborers working in the land. At 14 years old, she is already a mother, living the challenging life of a day laborer. But her contact with Ekta Parishad, an organization of landless farmers, transformed her existence and at 18 she starts a new life. She becomes active militant fighting for the right of access of her people to land, water, and forest rights, not without having had to overcome major prejudices where she lives. But thanks to the practice of non-violent communication and great inner strength, she overcame all obstacles and was included in the 50 marchers of the Jai Jagat organization which in 2019-2020 undertook to walk the 11’000 km. separating New Delhi from Geneva.

Since the age of 18, Shah Shabnam has been striving with great tenacity for the land rights of tribal people, among the most discriminated populations of India. Being a young woman who was also a member of a minority religion, she needed to and has manifested great strength, talent, and determination. She joined an organization fighting for the rights of the dispossessed, Ekta Parishad, at the outset of her struggles for land rights (she was still in high school!). Her work for the most dispossessed of all extends to over 100 villages and she has succeeded in getting land rights for 1470 families. She is gifted with a natural ability to deliver strong speeches. Her work has been mainly for one of the most primitive and exploited tribal people of India, the Saharya tribe. Alcohol was wreaking havoc among these people and she has managed to reduce drastically the all-pervading threat alcohol posed to these tribal populations. In June 2019, she was selected to be one of the 50 Jai Jagat marchers for this organization’s New Delhi-Geneva march on foot. Her commitment to her family and her work is such that she chose to stay single, a quasi-heroic decision in the Indian cultural context.
Nirmla Kujur is an inspiring, self-made, independent woman activist who took part in the Jai Jagat 11’000 km peace march on foot from New Delhi to Geneva (which was interrupted due to COVID-19 in Erevan, Armenia). She has committed herself with both rigor and skill to defend the forest, water, and land rights of the poorest of the poor. These three areas constitute the very basis of the survival of farmers. Take one of the three away, especially land or water, and the result will usually be fatal.

Nirmala was born close to the Indian state of Chattisgarh (center East of the country) and is from the Uraon tribe, the oldest of 6 siblings in a family living off the land (farming). At the end of her high school years, she chose to work on a program of self-delivery of babies in remote areas. Very early she chose to abandon her marital home and husband owing to their confining and patriarchal values. A person with both cheerful and bold disposition, she emerged over the years as a true grassroots leader. Just in recent years, she helped over 400 families get legal entitlement to land and has filed an additional 1000 requests (which now await the response of the authorities), all since working with Ekta Parishad, a grassroots movement active with Adivasis (tribal groups considered as the original inhabitants of the country).