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Updated: February 26, 2010 03:09 IST

SEWA’s Ela Bhatt chosen for Niwano Peace Prize

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Eminent social activist Ela Ramesh Bhatt. File photo
The Hindu
Eminent social activist Ela Ramesh Bhatt. File photo

Social worker Ela Bhatt has been chosen for the Niwano Peace Prize this year for her contribution to the uplift of poor women in India.

Ms. Bhatt, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and recognised as one of the pioneers in the development of the most oppressed and poorest women of India for more than three decades, will receive the award here on May 13.

The award, which recognises the significant contribution of an individual to inter-religious understanding and cooperation leading to world peace, comes with a certificate, a medal and prize money worth ¥20 million.

Announcing the recipient of the 27th Niwano Peace Prize, the committee said Ms. Bhatt is “an inspiration to all of us with her commitment to uplifting the downtrodden by literally giving them the tools to be the authors of their own destiny,” Kyodo reported.

Ms. Bhatt set up the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union, in 1972. Now, it has over 1.2 million members.

In 1974, she established the SEWA cooperative bank, which now reaches out to around three million women.

Known as a “gentle revolutionary,” the 76-year-old Ela Bhatt was a Rajya Sabha member and founder of Women’s World Banking, and she served as its chair.

She has received a number of awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award and France’s Légion d’honneur.

Ms. Bhatt also served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation for a decade.

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